New Jersey Alimony Factors According to Section 2A:34-23
Alimony is not a certainty in every New Jersey divorce. Courts must consider a variety of factors to determine whether alimony is appropriate and, if so, how much alimony should be awarded and for what duration. New Jersey family law lays out specific factors that a court must consider when determining an award of alimony. A court may weigh certain factors more heavily than others, but it must lay out its reasoning in a written decision. Continue reading to learn about the factors New Jersey courts use in deciding upon an award of alimony, and speak with a knowledgeable Englewood alimony and divorce attorney if you need help with a New Jersey family law matter.
New Jersey Alimony Factors
Under New Jersey law, upon divorce, a court may award permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony, limited duration alimony, or reimbursement alimony to either party. New Jersey Statutes section 2A:34-23 lists fourteen specific factors the court must consider when deciding whether and how much alimony to award. The listed factors are as follows:
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
- The duration of the marriage or civil union;
- The age and health of each party
- The standard of living established during the marriage, and each party’s ability to maintain that standard of living
- The earning capacity, education, work skills, and employability of each party;
- The length of time the party seeking alimony has been absent from the workforce;
- The parental responsibilities of each party for any shared children;
- The time and expense necessary for the party seeking maintenance to get the education or training necessary to secure employment, as well as the availability of such training and their future earning capacity;
- The parties’ non-financial contributions to the marriage, such as care and education of the children and any interruption of each party’s education or career;
- The equitable distribution of property in the divorce;
- Investment income available to each party;
- Tax consequences of an alimony award;
- Any temporary alimony already awarded;
- Any other factor the court deems relevant.
Note that while 13 of the factors are quite specific, there is a catchall 14th factor that gives the court significant leeway in evaluating any other factor that may be relevant to an alimony award. A court should lay out its reasoning in a written opinion when it decides upon an award of alimony. If a court improperly ignores certain factors or inappropriately weighs certain factors as overly important, either party might have grounds to appeal the decision.
New Jersey added certain additional factors in 2014 for the court to consider in determining the amount and duration of alimony, including that the court should pay particular attention to the practical impact of maintaining separate residences following divorce. Typically, alimony is meant to get the recipient party to the point that they can financially support themselves and end at that point.
For marriages less than 20 years long, alimony should have a set duration and should generally not exceed the length of the marriage itself. “Open durational alimony” is only available if a party proves “exceptional circumstances” exist. Exceptional circumstances may depend on the age of the parties, underlying health conditions, the degree of dependency of one spouse on the other financially, whether one spouse gave up their career or otherwise sacrificed their ability to be self-supporting in support of the marriage and/or children, and whether one spouse received a disproportionate share of the marital property.
Get Help With a New Jersey Family Law Matter
If you’re considering divorce in New Jersey or dealing with alimony, child support, custody, or other family law issues, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at 201-440-6300.