Sussex County NJ Alimony Attorneys
Handling alimony issues in Newton, NJ and Sussex County New Jersey
Following a divorce, one partner may be required to pay their former spouse a form of financial assistance known as alimony. Under U.S. law, most notably the 1979 Supreme Court case of Orr v. Orr, alimony is gender neutral. Depending on the unique financial circumstances of each case, either a husband or a wife may potentially be entitled to receive, or ordered to pay, alimony.
At Hollander, Strelzik, Pasculli, Hinkes, Vandenberg & Hontz, L.L.C., our compassionate family law attorneys have a deep understanding of New Jersey alimony laws and regulations. We work tirelessly to protect the legal rights and financial interests of our clients through every step of the legal process. If you need any help with your case, please reach out to our experienced Sussex County alimony attorneys to request your fully confidential case evaluation.
How Alimony is Determined in New Jersey?
Under New Jersey law, alimony awards are based on many different factors. Unlike child support, alimony is simply never a guarantee. Also unlike child support, alimony cannot be calculated with any real mathematical precision. Indeed, there is no set formula available that you can use to provide clear guidance on how much alimony will be owed in your case.
In some cases, the two parties may able to agree to a fair alimony award through voluntary divorce settlement negotiations, perhaps even a divorce mediation. Though, that is certainly not always possible. Your case may need to go before a judge. If an alimony dispute does go before a New Jersey court, then the court will consider many different issues when assessing how much alimony, if any, to award. Specifically, these factors include:
- The financial circumstances of each party, including their needs and ability to pay
- The length of the marriage
- The age and physical health of each spouse
- The standard of living that each spouse grew accustomed to during their marriage
- The likely future earning capacity of each party
- The parental responsibilities, if any, that have been taken on by each spouse, both in the past and moving forward
- How the alimony award would fit into the overall asset/debt division process under New Jersey’s equitable distribution standard.
The bottom line is that New Jersey courts will try to use both the asset distribution process and alimony to give each spouse ‘fair’ access to the couple’s financial resources, so that they can achieve economic stability. Courts want to ensure that the spouses end up with something that is a just and fair reflection of what they contributed to the marriage, and that also reasonably preserves the standard of living they enjoyed while married.
Understanding the Four Types of Alimony
In New Jersey, there are four distinct ‘types’ of alimony. This officially became the case in September of 2014, when Governor Chris Christie signed a bill that eliminated ‘permanent alimony’. Depending on the specific facts of your case, you or your former spouse may be entitled to receive:
Limited Duration Alimony:
Typically, limited duration alimony is reserved for a divorce that follows a relatively short-term marriage. Still, the marriage needs to be long enough to qualify for alimony at all. Most often, marriages that last for less than five years will not qualify for any alimony. When limited duration alimony is awarded, the length of it can vary. Though not a firm rule, a basic starting point is that limited duration alimony will last for approximately half of the length of the couple’s marriage.
Open Durational Alimony:
This type of alimony ‘replaced’ permanent alimony under New Jersey law. It is generally only awarded if the marriage lasted at least 20 years, and the spouses clearly have unequal earning capacity moving forward. To be clear, while open durational alimony is not permanent, it will usually last indefinitely until there is good cause to alter the arrangement.
This type of alimony may potentially be awarded alongside open or limited duration alimony. The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to help the spouse with lower earning potential achieve advanced education or job training so that they can improve their future financial status. Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded so that they can support their lifestyle while they are seeking an advanced education, or it may be awarded to directly pay for the education or job training in question.
Finally, of the four, reimbursement alimony is the rarest. It is reserved for the limited, but real, situations in which a couple has pooled their assets to help one of the spouses pay for advanced education or training. As this education is likely to produce higher future earning potential for that spouse, their partner, who paid for part of it, is entitled to some form of financial reimbursement since they will no longer be able to benefit from their educational investment.
When Alimony Can Be Modified
If alimony has been awarded in your case, whether its limited duration alimony, or open durational alimony, the arrangement is not necessarily permanent. While there is a basic presumption against making changes to an alimony award, alimony can be modified, possibly even terminated altogether, if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. To be clear, this does not always mean that alimony will be reduced. Potentially, an alimony awarded can be increased, if the circumstances warrant doing so. In New Jersey, the party seeking the alimony modification has the burden of proving that such an alteration is justified due to the change of circumstances.
Get Family Law Help Today
At Hollander, Strelzik, Pasculli, Hinkes, Vandenberg & Hontz, L.L.C., we have extensive experience handling alimony issues in northern New Jersey. For more than fifty years, our attorneys have been providing support, counsel and high quality legal assistance to individuals and families.
For immediate help with your alimony case, please do not hesitate to call our team today at 973-383-3233 to set up your fully confidential initial family law consultation. From our office in Newton, we proudly serve communities throughout the region, including in Sussex County, Warren County, Morris County, Passaic County and Hunterdon County.