Navigating alimony and spousal support payments after divorce

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At DAME Legal, we believe all our clients are entitled to financial stability in the wake of their divorce. Divorce is disruptive, destabilizing, upsetting, and emotionally challenging enough without having to worry about the security of your financial future. One of the financial safeguards available to divorcing couples is spousal support or alimony.

Alimony

When a marriage is dissolved or on the path to being dissolved, many spouses are entitled to alimony. Taking a variety of factors into account, a judge or mediator will present or deny a case of spousal support. Factors that play a role in this third party’s decision can include, but may not be limited to, the length of the marriage, the affluence of the disputing parties, the standard of living to which the spouse has become accustomed, and the length of time the parties have been living separately.

It may surprise many people that spousal support and alimony can be awarded by the courts before divorce is even filed—and in some cases without divorce being filed at all. Alimony can be negotiated through alternative dispute methods, such as arbitration and mediation, as well as traditional paths of litigation.

To how much spousal support are you entitled?

While some states embed spousal support formulas into their divorce code guidelines, New Jersey divorce law has no such thing. Instead, the third-party presiding over the divorce dispute must take several factors into account to determine if alimony payment is warranted.

These factors can include the length of the marriage, the spouse’s ability to pay, the financial means of the spouse requesting support, the standard of living to which the spouse has become accustomed, as well as the spouse’s ability to seek employment, and earning potential.

Though there are no guarantees in alimony proceedings, many times, presiding judges will take the level of education the spouse possesses and history of contributions to the family, such as homemaking or caregiving, while the other spouse pursued advanced education, worked long hours, and a host of other sacrifices.

Alimony cases are inherently complex because they are not cut and dry. It is important to seek legal representation to help you determine a figure that makes the most sense for your lifestyle, your needs, and your former spouse’s means.

How long are you entitled to receive spousal support after a divorce?

New Jersey law dictates that spousal support shall not exceed the length of the marriage. There is no such thing as permanent spousal support in the state of New Jersey, but there can be extenuating circumstances that allow for “open duration” alimony payments. Examples of extenuating circumstances include, but may not be limited to, chronic illness, caretaking of a shared child with a chronic illness, being the primary caretaker of shared children, unemployment, disability, and other cases in which the former spouse was otherwise totally dependent upon their partner.

As mentioned above, spouses can request alimony support without actually filing for a divorce. Temporary support is often awarded in cases such as these, but there is no hard and fast rule for what amount or how long support must be relegated.

New Jersey law has no suggestions for alimony based on the length of the marriage, and there is no obligation for a former spouse to pay alimony unless explicitly requested. Because of this, alimony and spousal support negotiations are often separate from typical divorce discussions.

Because of the above complexities, all spouses seeking alimony are advised to consult with a licensed attorney experienced in this area of the law.

Alimony is no longer taxable income

Previously, alimony payments were considered taxable income under New Jersey State law. Since 2019, however, alimony is no longer considered taxable income.

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If you live in the greater New Jersey area or the New York metropolitan area, our partners at DAME Legal can help you overcome this difficult part of your life with relative ease. Give us a call at 201-968-5800 or fill out our contact form on our site to begin the process.

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