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How alimony works in New Jersey

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2022 | Divorce

Alimony, sometimes referred to as spousal maintenance or spousal support, is an important form of financial protection during and after divorce. Alimony allows someone who has been dependent on their spouse to begin living independently again at the end of the marriage.

It is common for one spouse to sacrifice years of professional opportunities to raise children or take care of the couple’s home. Their sacrifices in their career allow the other spouse to focus fully on their professional ambitions. The courts can recognize the value of uncompensated household contributions and personal economic sacrifices by awarding alimony to dependent spouses in New Jersey divorces.

How does alimony work in New Jersey?

There is no set formula.

One of the first questions people have about New Jersey alimony is how much will it potentially be. The difference between the two spouses’ incomes can play a role in determining how much one spouse pays the other.

It is common practice to subtract the income of the lower-earning spouse from the income of the higher-earning spouse. The courts may then award the lower-earning spouse a specific portion of the difference. In some states, there is a set formula, but New Jersey leaves much to the discretion of the judge.

People also often inquire about the duration of alimony payments. For shorter marriages and divorces that occur while couples are still youthful or middle-aged, the goal of alimony will be financial rehabilitation. The spouse receiving alimony may only get payments for a few years as they reenter the workforce or attend schooling so that they can command a wage sufficient to support themselves and any children they share with their ex.

In rare circumstances, such as when one spouse divorces the other because of their health issues or a very long-term marriage with a fully dependent spouse ends close to or past retirement age, the courts may award permanent alimony.

Alimony awards very drastically, but you can take control

New Jersey law leaves a lot to a judge’s discretion when it comes to alimony matters. A judge needs to consider multiple factors from your marriage including how long it lasted and the income of each spouse when deciding what would be appropriate and fair given your family situation.

You can take some of the guesswork out of alimony matters by settling the issue directly with your ex. Spouses can potentially reach their own alimony agreement and then ask the courts to approve those arrangements. There is no requirement to litigate alimony matters unless spouses truly cannot agree about what is fair.