New Jersey case law for alimony has evolved significantly in recent years. Know the facts to avoid becoming an economic casualty of divorce.

What is alimony?

Alimony (aka spousal support) is a legally binding arrangement that requires one spouse to make payments to the other during and after a divorce.

Throughout a marriage, one spouse may earn more money than the other. Perhaps one spouse left the workforce to raise children, affecting his/her future earning potential. The purpose of alimony is to balance this financial dynamic, and allow both parties to continue their marital lifestyle (or as close a lifestyle as possible) after divorce.

Alimony is typically based upon current income, both earned and unearned. It is entirely separate from child support and equitable distribution of property, although the structure of these arrangements may be considered when calculating alimony.

How is alimony calculated in New Jersey?

Unlike child support, there is no clear-cut formula or strict set of alimony guidelines established by the State of New Jersey.

A judge must consider many factors, including:

  • Age and health of both spouses
  • Both spouses’ earning capabilities, education, and employability
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Equitable distribution and child support arrangements
  • Financial and non-financial contributions of each spouse to the marriage
  • Marital standard of living
  • Need and ability of the parties to pay
  • Parental responsibilities for the children
  • Tax consequences of alimony
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant

These factors can be given as much or as little weight by the Court as determined by the facts of each individual case.

How long do you need to be married to get alimony?

There is no minimum length of marriage to qualify for alimony. However, the duration of the alimony payments will likely be a percentage of the lifetime of the marriage.

How is alimony taxed?

When paid after a divorce, alimony is considered taxable income for the recipient, and a tax deduction for the payer. However, before a divorce is final, spousal support is often not subject to taxes.

When does alimony end?

Permanent alimony is no longer a legal option in New Jersey, according to the 2014 alimony reform bill signed by Governor Chris Christie.

Acceptable categories of alimony include: open durational alimony, rehabilitative alimony, limited duration alimony, and reimbursement alimony. Rehabilitative and reimbursement alimony cannot be modified or terminated for any reason.

For marriages lasting under 20 years, the duration of payments cannot be longer than the lifetime of the marriage with little exception.

For example: If you were married for two years, the duration of alimony payments cannot exceed two years.

Alimony can also be modified or terminated based on a significant change in life circumstances, including: health problems, remarriage, unemployment for over 90 days, cohabitation, or retirement.

In New Jersey, “full retirement age” is defined as the full retirement age under the Social Security Act. If the payor spouse wants to retire before full retirement age, thus altering the alimony amongst and between the parties, he or she must prove a bona fide reason and a change in circumstances.

Hire a Divorce and Alimony Expert

Alimony is a very contentious and subjective issue within the divorce process. If you are pursuing or defending a spousal support order, modification, or enforcement of an existing order, let our team of alimony experts protect your long-term financial needs.