Divorce: Alimony Basics You Should Know
The decision to pursue a divorce can be a very difficult one. A person may pursue divorce for a variety of reasons which may result in the impossibility of reconciling with your spouse. This time in your life can be stressful. Divorce can affect you and your loved ones emotionally. Divorce proceeding can be complicated, confusing, stressful, emotional, and highly disputed. It is important that your divorce matter is handled properly. It is also important that you are properly informed of certain basics that may part of your divorce proceeding. It is safe to say that not all divorce proceedings move forward smoothly. Certain disputes do arise should parties not be able to agree on certain terms. If significant property is involved disputes may arise over the division and distribution of assets. If children are involved disputes over custody and support may arise. If alimony is sought by a spouse then disputes over an appropriate period and value of payments may arise. This article will dive just a bit into the basics of alimony and what you should know.
Should parties not be able to agree on any particular alimony terms, the matter will most likely be heard before a Superior Court Judge in the appropriate county where the action was filed. In its determination of an award of alimony, the court will review several nonexclusive, statutory factors pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b) to come to its determination. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b), the court will assess and review (1) actual need and ability of the parties to pay; (2) duration of the marriage; (3) age, physical and emotional health of the parties; (4) standard of living established in the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living; (5) earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills and employability of the parties; (6) length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance; (7) parental responsibilities for the children; (8) time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, availability of the training and employment, and opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income; (9) history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities; (10) equitable distribution of property ordered and any pay-outs on equitable distribution out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair; (11) income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party; (12) 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; and (13) any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
An important case regarding an illustration of one of the factors set forth above can be found within the matter of Crews v. Crews, 164 NJ 11 (2000). The Court in Crews discusses, among other issues, the martial standard of living. In this matter the former spouse sought review of a denial of her motion for modification of an alimony award. It is understood by the Courts the importance of establishing a marital standard of living when a spouse is seeking an award of alimony. The standard set forth in establishing a martial standard of living is whether the supporting spouse can maintain a lifestyle that is reasonably comparable to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. If the supporting spouse is unable maintain his or her lifestyle compared to the lifestyle established during marriage and the other spouse has the financial ability to provide the support to maintain such a lifestyle than the Court may come to a determination that an award of alimony if necessary and appropriate. It is essential that marital standard of living is established by the spouse seeking alimony so that the Court can properly make the determination of whether an award of alimony is necessary and appropriate.
It is important that you keep yourself informed throughout your divorce proceeding. Communication is key to the quality of your legal representation so we suggest that you have open and honest dialogue with your divorce attorney. Your New Jersey Divorce Attorney will guide and assist you through this process and provide you with the proper legal representation to conclude your matter with your best interest in mind.