Alimony is not automatically awarded in divorce. It is governed by statutory factors – enacted by New Jersey lawmakers – as well as the discretion of the judge. The amount and duration — and whether it is awarded at all — are significant financial considerations.
With so much at stake, you need an attorney who can anticipate how alimony is likely to play out and who can go to bat for you in contested proceedings. Divorce and alimony attorney Rajeh A. Saadeh has negotiated and litigated alimony in the divorce courts of Middlesex County, Somerset County, Hunterdon County, Union County, Morris County, and Mercer County.
Don’t leave anything to chance.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our lawyers about alimony and other factors of divorce.
How Is Alimony Determined?
The premise of alimony, or spousal support, is to enable both parties to enjoy the same standard of living after they divorce — which is almost never possible. The bigger the difference in their incomes or circumstances, the more substantial the award may be. While there may be some alimony in any divorce, it often comes into play in high net worth divorces.
Under New Jersey law, alimony can be awarded for a limited time or indefinitely. A judge decides how much and how long (or declines to award any support) based on statutory factors. Some of the chief criteria are the income and earning power of each spouse, the length of the marriage, child-rearing responsibilities, accustomed lifestyle, and need based on age, health or disability.
- Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded for a few years to allow the lesser-earning spouse to go back to school or establish a career.
- Reimbursement alimony compensates for sacrifices during the marriage such as supporting the other spouse through college or graduate school.
- Open-durational, or what used to be called “permanent” or “lifetime” alimony, may be awarded in longer marriages if one spouse is not able to support himself or herself. It is typically terminated if the recipient remarries or when the payor retires.
Answers To Top Alimony Questions
Because every marriage is different, you may not understand whether your divorce will involve alimony payments. Here are three of the most-asked questions we get regarding alimony in New Jersey.
How many years does alimony last?
There are different scenarios (23 factors) that will affect the length of time alimony payments are made if decided by a judge. Typically, alimony will be paid for half of the time the couple was married, for the first 10 years. So, if you were married 10 years, you may pay alimony for five years. If your marriage lasted between 10 and 15 years, then expect to pay or receive alimony for approximately 70% of the time of the marriage. For marriages that last between 15 and 20 years, alimony may be paid for about 80% of the time. Keep in mind two things: One, generally, a judge can determine any amount of alimony for any amount of time up to the duration of the marriage; and two, both parties can agree to an alimony settlement, without a judge, out of court, if they choose.
Is alimony based on gender or sex?
No. A person’s sex – whether a person is male or female – does not affect how a judge makes an alimony determination, nor does a person’s gender expression or identity. The most influential factor is a spouse’s ability to pay, the other spouse’s need, and the marital standard of living.
Did permanent alimony go away in 2014?
This is a myth that has a kernel of truth to it. Permanent alimony was technically eliminated, because generally alimony could not be awarded to last longer than the marriage. There are “exceptional circumstances” that do allow for alimony to last a very long time, even beyond the duration of the marriage. These circumstances include the ages of the spouses, the impact the marriage had on each spouse to be able to support themselves, chronic illness and taxes, among other factors.
Explore Your Options
If you believe you deserve alimony, or if you believe that it would be unfair for you to pay alimony, we can give an honest assessment of your situation and help you decide how to proceed. Alimony can also serve as a bargaining tool in property division, such as trading other marital assets in lieu of alimony payments.
The Law Office of Rajeh A. Saadeh, L.L.C., handles divorces throughout the Middlesex metro area (Somerset, Middlesex, Hunterdon, Union, Morris and Mercer counties). Call our Bridgewater office at 908-396-8330 to schedule a consultation, or fill out our online form and we will respond soon.