Bergen County Alimony Lawyers
The Englewood alimony lawyers at Herbert & Weiss are experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive alimony lawyers who fight for their client’s rights and interests in every aspect of a New Jersey divorce, including terms of any alimony payment which may be negotiated or litigated.
What is Alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is a court-ordered payment from one ex-spouse to the other following a divorce. The idea behind alimony in New Jersey is that the spouses as a couple achieved a certain standard of living, and alimony can be used to balance the parties’ earning capacity and allow each spouse to continue that standard of living separately. While New Jersey alimony recipients once had the option of receiving permanent financial support from a former spouse, changes to the law mean that this is rarely the case any longer. Changing tax laws have also changed how alimony impacts both paying and receiving spouses. More than ever before, it’s critical to have a seasoned New Jersey family law attorney representing you during a dispute over spousal support. The experienced family law attorneys at Herbert & Weiss have been representing spouses who both anticipate paying and receiving alimony. Being represented by seasoned lawyers like Herbert & Weiss ensures that the court is presented with well-argued and robust evidence advocating for your interests. Contact our Englewood offices for a consultation on your case today.
How is alimony calculated?
In any divorce or dissolution, the judge has the authority to order one spouse to pay an amount of financial support to the other spouse. Recent changes to New Jersey alimony law instruct courts to consider evidence regarding 14 factors in the statute, considering these factors equally unless the judge issues a written opinion explaining why one factor held more importance than another in their decision. The judge does have some discretion in determining how these factors apply, making representation by a seasoned family law attorney of great importance in achieving your desired outcome. These are the factors that courts will consider:
- The need and ability of the spouses to pay
- The length of the marriage or civil union
- The age of the spouses and their current physical and emotional health
- The standard of living that the spouses established during the marriage and whether they can likely maintain a comparable standard
- The spouses’ earning capacity, skills, level of education, and employability
- How long the spouse seeking support has been out of the workforce
- How the spouses have divided responsibility as parents
- How much training the spouse seeking support would need to find employment, how available that training is, and how much they would stand to earn
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, whether financial or not, and the degree to which each spouse interrupted their career or education to care for the children of the marriage
- How the property was divided and whether payouts were made toward equitable distribution with current income
- What income is available to the spouses through assets they hold
- What the tax consequences of alimony payments would be
- Whether and in what amount a spouse received pendente lite support (i.e., spousal support before the divorce was finalized)
- Other relevant factors determined by the court
The court can consider a variety of income sources, including pension benefits, although if a pension plan or other retirement benefit was divided in the property settlement, it shouldn’t also be considered as income for the paying spouse in determining alimony payments. With the use of forensic experts where necessary, along with investigators and other tools, we can help make sure that spousal income is fairly and accurately determined.
Recent changes in tax implications for alimony payments have also had an impact on the amounts that New Jersey courts will award in spousal support. As of January 2019, alimony payments are no longer deductible on federal tax returns and will no longer be considered taxable income for support recipients. However, state taxes for New Jersey still allow alimony payments to be deducted. You can discuss how alimony will affect your tax obligations with your attorney before agreeing to a spousal support arrangement.
What types of Alimony are there?
Divorcing spouses in New Jersey were once able to apply for permanent alimony that would last until the receiving spouse remarried. Now, New Jersey law has done away with what was once called “permanent” alimony and places firm limits on when courts will award long-term alimony. These are the types of alimony that may be awarded in a New Jersey divorce.
- Open duration – This is the longest-term alimony available under New Jersey law. Open duration alimony is only available when the marriage lasted 20 years or longer, and the spouses have a substantial disparity in earning capacity. Open duration alimony will be terminated when the receiving spouse remarries or cohabitates with a new partner, and it can also be terminated or reduced when the paying spouse reaches the federal retirement age of 67.
- Limited duration – When the marriage was less than 20 years long, the court can award alimony for the length of time it would reasonably take the recipient to improve his or her earning capacity to a level where alimony is no longer appropriate. However, limited duration alimony may not last longer than the marriage itself. In other words, if a marriage lasted ten years, the award of alimony would be limited to a length of ten years or less.
- Rehabilitative – Rehabilitative alimony is based on a plan where the recipient shows what steps will be taken and the time frame that will be needed to adjust to a new situation and get established financially.
- Reimbursement – This type of alimony is appropriate where one of the spouses supported the other to get an advanced education or specialized job training, with the anticipation that it would lead to an enhanced earning capacity for the benefit of the family.
The court also has the authority to award pendente lite alimony, which is temporary support during the divorce proceedings. This alimony can include requiring one spouse to pay a retainer for expert and legal services for the other spouse. The court can make one spouse pay for the legal fees of the other based on financial circumstances and good or bad faith of the part of either spouse.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation for Alimony in Your New Jersey Divorce
Given the broad discretion the judge has in awarding alimony, it is crucial to be well-represented in the divorce process, whether you are seeking to receive alimony or being asked to pay. You will want to make sure the judge has an accurate picture of the factors to be considered and that your rights and interests are being adequately considered in the final decision. Herbert & Weiss has a reprutation both as aggressive litigators and persuasive negotiators. We know which factors are most important to influence an alimony award, and we know how to prepare and present a compelling case. In Bergen County and northern New Jersey, contact the Englewood alimony lawyers at Herbert & Weiss to discuss how the issue of alimony may be resolved in your divorce.