Despite what some amateurs say… There is no “alimony calculation” in New Jersey. Hire a professional who knows better.
In New Jersey, alimony, child support, and division of property are all considered part of a “unitary scheme” for establishing an equitable division of the spouses’ assets and income in a divorce. If you are considering filing for divorce or if you are expecting your spouse to file first, it is critical to gain a thorough understanding of your assets and overall financial situation. This allows you to set realistic expectations – whether through settlement or court order – once your marriage has been dissolved. If your spouse has already filed, you should act quickly to inventory your property in order to receive an equitable distribution.
At Romanowski Law Offices, we provide thorough and knowledgeable representation for clients in New Jersey divorces. We have decades of experience as advocates in contested divorces and regularly assist clients in resolving their divorces through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods. Attorney Curtis Romanowski also serves as a neutral mediator. If you are seeking to end an opposite-sex or same-sex marriage in New Jersey, we can help you get through the legal process with a fair result. This way, you can move on to the next stage of your life.
Factors for Determining Alimony Awards
If your alimony dispute goes to court, the judge will consider the following factors (among others) in determining the type and amount of spousal support to be awarded:
- The parties’ actual need and ability to pay
- The duration of the marriage or civil union
- The parties’ respective ages and physical and emotional health
- The standard of living established during the marriage or civil union
- The likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living following their divorce
- The spouses’ respective earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability
- The parents’ respective custody and visitation rights
- Each party’s financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage or civil union, including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities
- The equitable distribution of marital property and any payments on equitable distribution
- Access to investment income
- The tax consequences of any alimony award for both parties
In addition to these factors, the courts in New Jersey will consider whether it is necessary for the supported spouse to accumulate savings in order to be prepared for changed circumstances. In limited circumstances, the courts may also consider certain forms of marital “fault” in deciding whether and to what extent an award of alimony is justified.
How to Prepare to Face Alimony Disputes
If you expect your divorce to involve alimony, it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible. There may be steps you can take now to improve your chances of receiving alimony or to reduce your alimony burden. At Romanowski Law Offices, we can help you thoroughly assess your situation and develop a strategy for ensuring that you achieve a just outcome in your divorce.
Modification of Existing Alimony Awards
In addition to helping spouses establish or oppose alimony during a divorce, we also represent individuals seeking to modify existing alimony awards. Courts only allow for modifications upon a showing of relevant “changed circumstances.” We have significant experience representing clients in modification proceedings in the New Jersey courts, and can help you develop a strong case for modifying your current alimony.
Seek the Help of Lawyer Before Pursuing Alimony and Child Support Matters in New Jersey
While alimony compensates a former spouse for his or her contributions and sacrifices made during their marriage, child support ensures that both parents retain financial responsibility for their children’s health, education, and upbringing following a divorce. Of course, unmarried parents can seek child support as well. Along with pursuing alimony and equitable division of property, we work closely with our clients to develop legally and economically sound arguments for appropriate child support obligations in litigation, Collaborative Divorces, and other forms of ADR.
The following are answers to some frequently asked questions about alimony and child support under New Jersey law:
How is alimony determined?
Alimony is determined using a number of factors relating to the spouses’ respective contributions to the marriage and their anticipated financial circumstances following the divorce. Unlike child support, there are no fixed “guidelines” for determining the amount of alimony. However, many judges continue to use mathematical formulas for calculating spousal support. In non-adversarial divorce proceedings, we help spouses analyze the budgetary requirements for running two separate households and consider tax consequences to arrive at appropriate spousal support determinations. Read more about how alimony is determined in New Jersey.
Is alimony taxable?
Unless the support order states otherwise, alimony recipients must pay income tax on spousal support, and the paying party can deduct alimony payments from his or her annual income. This is to be contrasted with child support, which does not have income tax implications for either party.
Is there a way to structure alimony to optimize the tax consequences?
Yes. Unlike child support – which (subject to certain exceptions) is calculated according to strict guidelines – alimony is negotiable in your divorce. Spouses can use this flexibility to minimize their overall tax burden once their marriage has been dissolved.
For example, if one spouse is in a higher tax bracket than the other, structuring alimony payments so that the spouse in the higher bracket can take deductions while the spouse in the lower bracket pays tax can be of benefit to both parties. Dependency deductions, head-of-household filing status, and other mechanisms can also be used to optimize the tax consequences of ending a marriage. We recommend working with a tax accountant who can help you thoroughly address these issues during your divorce.
Can I receive alimony before my divorce is final?
Yes. While your divorce is pending, you can seek support pendente lite (pending litigation). This can be used to cover your housing and transportation costs, as well as general expenses and other amounts, until your divorce is final.
You can even seek spousal support before you file for divorce through what is known as a Complaint for Separate Maintenance.
Child Support FAQs
How is child support calculated?
In New Jersey, child support is calculated based on strict guidelines that are designed to protect the best interests of the child. The parents’ respective incomes, custody and visitation rights, and a laundry list of factors all get plugged in to various formulas established by a committee of the New Jersey Supreme Court which are then used to calculate a child support award. Education, childcare, healthcare, and other child-related expenses come into play as well. Read more about calculating child support in New Jersey.
What are the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines?
The New Jersey Supreme Court has adopted Child Support Guidelines that courts throughout the state use when calculating child support. The Guidelines establish a range for calculating child support payments based on the parents’ respective incomes and other factors. However, they also provide that the parents can negotiate a support amount above or below the Guidelines’ range if warranted by the circumstances.
What if the Child Support Guidelines are inappropriate for my personal situation?
If the parents’ combined net income exceeds the statutory threshold, or if certain other exceptions apply, the courts will apply criteria outside of the Child Support Guidelines in fashioning an award. In these circumstances, calculating child support becomes more akin to determining alimony rights and establishing an equitable distribution of property in a divorce.
However, the primary focus remains on serving the best interests of the child. Accordingly, factors such as the following will still weigh heavily in the court’s child support determination:
- The needs of the child
- The parents’ respective standards of living
- The age and health of each parent and child
- Any pre-existing child support obligations
How long does child support last?
Child support lasts until the “emancipation” of the child – i.e., when the child is expected to become self-supporting. There is no hard and fast rule for when children become emancipated. However, child support obligations typically end upon the occurrence of one of the following events:
- The child reaches the age of majority
- The child graduates from high school, college, or graduate school
- The child enters the armed forces
- The child gets married or enters a civil union
Contact an Alimony and Child Support Lawyer in NJ Today
Our alimony and child support attorneys can help you establish appropriate obligations or modify your existing awards. We have a national reputation for effective advocacy in family law matters. To schedule an expert initial consultation, call (732) 242-4564 or contact Romanowski Law Offices online today.
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