NJ Divorce, Child Support and Alimony Attorneys

Alimony Reform Act of 2014
The following are answers to some frequently asked questions about alimony and child support under New Jersey law:

Alimony FAQs

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.

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 into a civil union

For More Answers, Contact Romanowski Law Offices Today

Romanowski Law Offices provides experienced representation for alimony, child support, and other family law matters in New Jersey. Attorney Curtis Romanowski is nationally known for his experience and scholarship in numerous complex areas of family law and litigation. To speak with an attorney at Romanowski Law Offices about your situation, call (732) 603-8585 or contact us online today.