Divorce can be a jarring transition, especially after a long-term marriage. Both parties will need to contend with new financial realities as a single person, whether that means losing a substantial source of income or needing to account for spousal maintenance and child support expenses. Below, our experienced Englewood child custody and parental rights attorneys discuss some of the factors that come into play when considering how to maintain the marital lifestyle after divorce.
Does the “Marital Lifestyle” Factor into Alimony Decisions?
Spousal support or alimony is meant to provide for the needs and living expenses of the lower-earning spouse following a divorce. Historically, families typically had only one income-earner, while the other spouse managed the household; spousal support was meant to keep the homemaker afloat after the divorce. Nowadays, many families are dual-income, but quite often one spouse has a higher income.
Depending on the state, modern spousal support may be limited to temporary income necessary to aid the lower-earning spouse in obtaining the training, education, and experience necessary to secure their own income. In other states, spousal maintenance is meant to allow the lower-earning spouse to continue the same or similar standard of living as they experienced during the marriage.
In New Jersey, spousal support is calculated based on several factors and is generally meant to provide for the lower-earning spouse while they become self-supporting. There are certain forms of alimony specifically meant for spouses who gave up their own earning potential to support the marriage. The amount of alimony is determined based on many factors outlined in New Jersey law, as well as a catchall for “any other factors which the court (or parties) may deem relevant.”
One of the factors for determining alimony is “the standard of living established in the marriage” and “the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living.” While this is far from the only factor, it is relevant to New Jersey courts. The existence of this factor strongly implies that alimony should not be limited to mere necessities and basic living expenses; instead, when awarding spousal support, the court must consider whether the recipient will be able to maintain the marital lifestyle after the transition.
Protecting Your Assets
In addition to spousal support, each party to the marriage is entitled to an equitable share of the marital estate. Parties looking to protect their lifestyle must make sure to make a strong case for a substantial share of the marital assets. Factors that go into what counts as an “equitable” distribution include each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage, each spouse’s financial circumstances at the time of divorce, debts to be assumed by each spouse, tax consequences, and the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
Watch Out for Taxes
When working toward a divorce settlement, it is important to keep in mind the tax consequences of divorce. There are tax implications for property division and settlement, property liquidation, spousal support, and child support. For parties looking to maintain their lifestyle after divorce, it is vital to consult with a divorce attorney who also understands the tax implications of various decisions.
Experienced Legal Support for Your New Jersey Divorce
If you’re considering divorce in New Jersey or dealing with child support, child custody, property division, or other family law issues, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at (201) 500-2151.