Monmouth County Spousal Support Attorneys
Alimony Law & Calculation
The end of a marriage is both emotionally painful and legally challenging.
It’s also the threshold of a new way of life for both spouses. Spousal
support–or alimony, as it is interchangeably called–is a means
to provide financial stability for both parties in their new lives. An
alimony lawyer in Monmouth County can ensure that your interests are represented,
be it in negotiation,
mediation, or litigation.
divorce cases where there is no prenuptial agreement, spousal support is one part of
the overall settlement process and is not to be confused with the
equitable distribution of assets or
custody and support. The payments one spouse makes to another may indeed be impacted
by who gets the house and will certainly be affected by where the kids
live. But spousal support has a specific purpose unto itself, which is
to ensure that both spouses, to the greatest degree possible, can continue
to live the lifestyle they had while married.
Types of Alimony
There are three different types of spousal support that may be agreed upon
or awarded in a settlement:
Limited duration alimony–These are payments over a specified period. The purpose is aimed at giving
the spouse who suffered the most financial loss time to rebuild after
the divorce. Under New Jersey law, any marriage that lasts less than 20
years cannot have spousal support payments go any longer than the marriage
itself (save for extraordinary circumstances, such as a health condition).
Most alimony will fall into this limited duration category.
Reimbursement alimony–Perhaps you helped your spouse pay their way through law school. That spouse’s
income might be lower right now because their legal career is just beginning.
But you provided financial support that will eventually grow into much
greater value. One method of making you whole can be to award reimbursement
alimony for the costs of their education.
Rehabilitative alimony–Were you the spouse who stayed home with the kids or only worked part-time?
With the divorce, you have a need for more income than you can probably
earn right now. But some additional training or education might make all
the difference. An example of rehabilitative alimony would be your spouse
being required to financially contribute to you getting your MBA.
The different types of spousal support available demonstrates that you
and your ex have a lot of flexibility in crafting the plan that makes
the most sense for you. Every couple is different. Ideally, the alimony
lawyers for you and your spouse can work out a settlement. The alternative
is litigation, where a judge will issue the final decision.
How Is Spousal Support Determined?
There is no set amount or percentage that must be settled on for spousal
support. The state of New Jersey
outlines up to 24 different factors that judges should take into consideration
if your case reaches litigation. Factors that will be evaluated include:
Length of the marriage–A couple that was married for 25 years, where one spent more time
at home with children, is likely to see a substantial spousal support
payment established for the spouse with fewer financial resources at hand.
The couple that was married for three years may be on the opposite end
of the spectrum.
Medical issues–If one spouse faces higher medical costs or deals with a health
condition that may hinder their earning power, that is something the spousal
support payment needs to address.
Immediate earning power–A spouse with a high salary along with a high level of professional
education and training will likely need to provide some sort of support
to a spouse who does not have those things. This is particularly true
if the reason the latter spouse is at a disadvantage is because of decisions
made on behalf of the marriage–most notably, the raising of children.
Parental responsibilities–The raising of children may be far from complete. Depending on how
custody arrangements are shaped, one spouse may still face a more challenging
landscape for earning a high income. While child support will address
expenses directly related to the kids, spousal support may be required
to allow the custodial parent to enjoy the same standard of living that
existed within the marriage.
Other factors include the value of investments, ranging from a stock portfolio
to a family business and how much money was put into these assets during
the marriage. These subjects fall more strictly into the category of equitable
distribution. But as we discussed at the top, while spousal support is
different from equitable distribution and child support, all these factors
invariably overlap in determining the payments necessary to support an
expected standard of living.
Factoring in Fault
New Jersey law allows for both no-fault divorce and fault-based divorce.
In the latter case, one spouse proves that the other is the reason for
the dissolution of the marriage, be it for reasons of addiction, infidelity,
or abuse, among others. It’s natural to wonder if this fault will
be a factor in any spousal support payments.
The answer is…probably not. While the fault-based issues above may
be significant in child custody, spousal support is focused very clearly
on simply maintaining financial lifestyles.
Now, there are exceptions. If you have proof that your spouse’s fault
caused financial damage, that may be considered. Examples might be a spouse
who commits adultery buying their mistress/paramour expensive gifts or
taking them on lavish trips. Or if the spouse who came into the marriage
with fewer resources immediately engaged in flagrant and repeated infidelity,
to the point that it becomes apparent that the wealthier spouse is being
In general, the principle is that to be denied spousal support, one’s
spouse must have done something where an ordinary person would be simply
revolted at the idea that they would still be paid by the other.
A common method of spousal support is a monthly payment. Couples can agree
on their own payment methods, such as using PayPal or Venmo, or just writing
a check. The court has the option of ordering payment amounts to be withheld
from the paying spouse’s paychecks and then direct deposited into
the bank account of the other spouse.
The type of alimony agreed upon might also make a lump-sum payment a good
solution. Or if one spouse is going to pay for the other’s education,
they might agree that the paying spouse just writes the check directly
to the appropriate institution.
Modifying Spousal Support
Our lives change over the years, and it’s possible that these changes
might make the original spousal support plan outdated. As the kids get
older, the custodial spouse might be more available to enter the workforce
or advance in their career, thus making a lower payment more realistic.
Alternatively, the custodial spouse might develop health problems that
make such advancement harder, while the paying spouse sees their own career
take off. Under these circumstances, the custodial spouse might petition
the court for a modified order that would cover healthcare costs.
Tax Implications of Spousal Support
The 2017 changes in the federal tax code had a significant impact on how
spousal support payments are treated. The changes work in favor of recipients,
who are not required to report spousal support as taxable income. On the
flip side, the paying spouse is no longer able to use spousal support
payments as a deduction.
Spousal support in New Jersey is an extremely complex negotiation with
a lot of moving parts that impact what is ultimately fair. You need a
Monmouth County alimony lawyer who is deeply knowledgeable in all the
legal factors that must be considered, as well as experienced in knowing
what questions to ask to elicit the information needed to craft a fair
At Stolfe Zeigler New Jersey Family Law Group, we bring that knowledge
and experience, and we top it off with real human compassion for our clients
as they try and start their lives anew. Please call us today at
(732) 585-1651 or
contact us online to speak with our Monmouth County spousal support attorneys.