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What factors will affect alimony awards?

Life after divorce can involve considerable adjustments. People may need to move, get their own health insurance, pay for child care, and set up all new accounts for utilities, gym memberships and credit cards.

These and other post-divorce adjustments typically require money. And for people who were financially dependent on their spouse during marriage, this element of life after divorce can prove to be the most stressful. If you are in this situation, you should know that you may be in a position to collect alimony.

Who can collect alimony?

Alimony is not mandatory, and not everyone will qualify for financial support after a New Jersey divorce. In general, alimony (also called spousal support) is available to people who would not be financially capable of supporting themselves after divorce or as reimbursement to people who made significant sacrifices during the marriage.

In other words, alimony is in place to support one person, not as a punishment to the paying party. 

Factors that affect award and duration of support

If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have a prenuptial agreement in place with guidelines on alimony, or if you can work out an arrangement through mediation, you have more control over support payments.

If you cannot agree on alimony, the courts will make the decisions. When someone requests alimony, the courts will consider:

  • Each party's earning potential
  • Each party's income level
  • The lifestyle parties enjoyed while married
  • Financial needs of the requesting party
  • Financial capabilities of the other party
  • Child custody arrangements
  • Each party's medical health and needs
  • The length of the marriage
  • Financial and non-financial contributions of each party during the marriage
  • Property distribution

Based on these and any other relevant factors, the courts will decide whether to order alimony. If it does award alimony, it will also determine the amount and duration based on similar factors.

If you are hoping to receive alimony after divorce, you should prepare to show the need and reason behind your request. This can take some work, especially if your ex is very much against paying alimony. However, with legal guidance and reliable records backing up your petition, you can get yourself in a better position to receive support.

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