Alimony Factors in New Jersey
Whenever a party has requested an award for any type of alimony in a New Jersey divorce, New Jersey's alimony statute requires courts to consider a specific list of factors. Any judge who places more importance on certain factors than on others is required to explain the reasons for this in writing.
The listed of alimony factors are as follows:
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
- The duration of the marriage or civil union;
- The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
- The standard of living established in the marriage or civil union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living, with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other;
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
- The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;
- The parental responsibilities for the children;
- The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
- The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage or civil union by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;
- The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair;
- The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment;
- The nature, amount, and length of pendente lite support paid, if any; and
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
In September of 2014 the legislature added additional factors that courts must look at in determining the duration and amount of alimony. In addition to the factors above, courts must "consider the practical impact of the parties' need for separate residences and the attendant increase in living expenses on the ability of both parties to maintain a standard of living reasonably comparable to the standard of living established in the marriage or civil union, to which both parties are entitled, with neither party having a greater entitlement thereto." For marriages of less than 20 years, open durational alimony (alimony without a specified ending date) is not appropriate, and alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage except in the following "exceptional circumstances":
- The ages of the parties at the time of the marriage or civil union and at the time of the alimony award;
- The degree and duration of the dependency of one party on the other party during the marriage or civil union;
- Whether a spouse or partner has a chronic illness or unusual health circumstance;
- Whether a spouse or partner has given up a career or a career opportunity or otherwise supported the career of the other spouse or partner;
- Whether a spouse or partner has received a disproportionate share of equitable distribution;
- The impact of the marriage or civil union on either party's ability to become self-supporting, including but not limited to either party's responsibility as primary caretaker of a child;
- Tax considerations of either party;
- Any other factors or circumstances that the court deems equitable, relevant and material.
This list comes from New Jersey statute: N.J.S.2A:34-23
You can read the most recent update and bill information approved on September 10, 2014 here: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/AL14/42_.HTM or check out our slideshow presentation below which gives an easy-to-follow summary of what you need to know about alimony reform in New Jersey as of September 10, 2014:
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