How Is The Duration And Amount Of Alimony Determined
By Peter Van Aulen, Esq.Are There Alimony Guidelines?
Currently in New Jersey there are no set guidelines or official formula by statute or case law to compute the amount or length of alimony. Many attorneys and Judges unofficially compute the amount of alimony by taking the gross income of both spouses and subtracting the two numbers and awarding the lesser income spouse one third (1/3) of the difference of said incomes. For example, if one spouse made $100,000.00 a year in gross income and the other spouse made $25,000.00 a year in gross income the difference of the two incomes would be $75,000.00. Then you multiply $75,000.00 by 1/3, so the yearly alimony obligation is $25,000.00 or $481.00 per week. If one spouse is not working or is not fully employed, she or he could be imputed an income that a Court believes a spouse is capable of earning. In determining the duration of alimony, I have seen the length computed in the profession by giving the spouse who will receive alimony one year of support for every year of marriage. However, it is important to note that theses two methods are not sanctioned in any statute or case law in New Jersey. There is alimony reform pending in the New Jersey Legislature. If passed, it would create guidelines for determining the duration and amount of alimony. This is not yet law in New Jersey. So how is the amount and duration of alimony officially calculated by Courts in New Jersey? The Courts officially use the below stated factors in making said determination.ALIMONY FACTORS
The New Jersey Alimony statute contains thirteen factors that Courts use in determining the amount and duration of alimony:
- The actual need of one party and ability of the other party to pay.
- The length of the marriage or civil union.
- The ages of the parties and their emotional and physical health.
- The parties’ standard of living established during the marriage or civil union and whether each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living.
- Each parties’ earning ability, educational levels, occupational skills and employability.
- The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance.
- A parties’ parental responsibilities.
- The time and cost needed to acquire enough education or training to enable the party seeking support to find suitable employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the prospect for future attainment of capital assets and income.
- The record of financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage by both parties including contributions to the care and education of the children and disruption of individual careers or educational opportunities.
- The equitable distribution of marital property.
- Any investment income available to either party from any assets held by them.
- The tax treatment of alimony award.
- Any other factor the Court finds relevant.
The application of the above factors is very fact sensitive. Usually, the two most important factors are the length of the marriage and the difference of income. However, depending on the facts of the case other factors could gain equal or more significance. Determining the amount and duration of alimony can be complex. This is why you need an experienced New Jersey Divorce Lawyer who understands how to apply the current law to your situation and advocate your case. Call Peter Van Aulen at (201) 845-7400 today for a free consultation.