Alimony is legal term discussed in divorce settlements. Many clients go and seek the legal assistance of a family or divorce lawyer to be properly represented in court and thus receive the proper amount of alimony due to them in accordance with the legal procedures. There may be other reasons behind the desire of many couples to have their own legal counsel during divorce settlements, however this article aims to provide some insight into Alimony Law in NJ.
Legal Definition of Alimony
Alimony is the legal term used in reference to the payment used by one spouse to another after a divorce settlement.
Alimony and Equitable Distribution
Alimony and equitable distribution is legally distinct from one another. The latter involves the splitting of the marital pot while the former is in respect with the responsibility of the husband to continue support of his former wife for her to continue to live in the best possible means in accordance to her standard of living when they were still living together.
Alimony and Child Support
In as much as child support and alimony shares similar grounds in reference to financial matters, the former is in responsibility to provide monetary support for the health, education, shelter, food and other basic needs of the child. The law does not entail that the allowance of child support given by the father is one and the same with the alimony that the father has to give to his ex-wife.
Determinant Factors for the Amount of Alimony
The State of New Jersey is quite lenient with its guidelines regarding the amount that should be given to the spouse who requests for alimony. The discretion is left to the judge under the following thirteen (13) factors stated in the New Jersey Statute 2A:34-23(b):
- Parental responsibility.
- Income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party.
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the awarded alimony.
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age, physical and emotional health of the parties.
- The standard of living established in the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living.
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills and employability of the parties.
- The length of absence from the job market and custodial responsibilities for children of the party seeking maintenance.
- The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.
- The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage by each party, including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities.
- The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payout on equitable distribution directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair.
- Any other factors that the Court may deem relevant.
Types of Alimony Honored in the State of New Jersey
In the past, only two types of alimony were honored in the state of New Jersey but careful evaluation of the law and analysis of statistical facts lead to its revision. The following are the four types of alimony that the judge can provide after deliberation of the 13 factors presented above.
This involve a maximum amount of time of two years for the spouse to provide financial assistance to the latter. It is designed to help the spouse become self-sufficient after the release of the divorce settlement and officially starts when the couple becomes legally separated. However, it is ordered by the court if and only if one of the couple is substantially capable of supporting the financial needs of the other.
Normally, couples who have stayed for more than 20 years are most likely to be given this type of alimony. It is a lifetime support to a divorcing spouse and ends when either spouse dies or when the supporting party decides to remarry.
This is the most common type of alimony provided by the court. It involves providing the spouse income until he or she acquires the skills or necessary trainings for him or her to become employable. This includes returning to school for continuous education thus the spouse needs to provide payment for the household expenses while the other party gets education and doesn’t terminate even if the supported spouse decides to remarry.
This is ordered by the court as payment for the economic sacrifices the other party experienced during the marriage. The amount is to be used for the enhancement of the spouse’s earning capacity especially if the other party finds it difficult if not impossible to obtain a professional degree but the latter obtained such through the other’s spouse’s sacrifices. It covers all financial contributions which includes household expenses, educational contributions and the formers spouse’s education and remains outstanding even if the supported spouse decides to remarry.
Pendente Lite Alimony
Although this is not classified as one of the official types of alimony honored in New Jersey, it is issued by the court as temporary alimony while the couple await final judgment of their divorce plea. It is also an eye-opener on the part of the husband that his lifestyle and expenses may soon need to be adjustment since he has the responsibility to maintain the status quo of the family lifestyle.
Alimony and Taxes
After the divorce settlement is approved, you and your spouse are most likely to file different sets of tax returns. If you are the person who pays the alimony payments and you meet the following qualifications then you can claim it in your deduction.
- You and your spouse or former spouse do not file a joint return with each other.
- You pay in cash (including checks or money orders).
- The divorce or separation instrument does not say that the payment is not alimony.
- If legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance, you and your former spouse are not members of the same household when you make the payment.
- You have no liability to make any payment (in cash or property) after the death of your spouse or former spouse.
- Your payment is not treated as child support.
You may indicate this in your Form 1040 and file it as deduction on line 31a but you need to provide the Social Security Number of your former spouse on line 31b otherwise you will be subject to a $50 fine. If you feel uncomfortable completing the requirements on your tax form then it is best to hire the assistance of a tax adviser for proper listing of these deductions.
On the contrary, if you are the one who receives the alimony payment then it is to be included in your income tax return. You may use the same Form1 1040 and list all alimony payments received on line 11 together with the Social Security Number of your husband otherwise you will also be subject to a $50 fine.
Lepis Hearing and Alimony
A lepis hearing may be requested by either party in cases where the following situations needs to be addressed:
- An increase in the cost of living;
- A decrease in the supported spouse's income;
- Illness, disability, or infirmity after the divorce;
- The loss of a house or apartment by the supported spouse;
- Unemployment by the supported spouse;
- The payor spouse earnings have increased.
Facts may be presented in court and the judge will evaluate if the reasons provided by the party requesting adjustment is reasonable. In any case, tax returns, pay stubs and CIS may be requested by the court to provide a just verdict on this matter.
Sammarro & Zalarick, P.A. have over 40 years combined experience working with families and individuals in and around Garfield, New Jersey so can expertly assist with any matter relating to family law, divorce settlements and child support disputes so do not hesitate to Contact Us Online or call our office at 1-973-478-1026 for a free initial consultation and case evaluation.