When a New Jersey couple is facing the end of their marriage, there are many legal issues that they must address throughout the divorce process. If the divorce is somewhat amicable, they can sometimes come to an accord on the division of marital assets and financial obligations, as well as alimony, on their own. They would then present this to a judge to be reviewed and adopted as their agreement.
However, if talks have broken down and mediation sessions have proven to be unfruitful, the couple will proceed to litigation and have some or all of these issues decided by a judge. If you find yourself in this position, your Lawrence Law divorce lawyer can help you to determine if you qualify for receiving alimony or the chances that you may be ordered to pay.
Whether you are a potential recipient of alimony or are concerned that you might be ordered to pay it, you should know that an award of alimony is not a given in every divorce case. In general, it is based upon the needs of the receiving spouse as well as the financial circumstances of the person ordered to pay.
Pursuant to New Jersey Statutes Title 2A. Administration of Civil and Criminal Justice 2A § 34-23, courts are required to take these factors into account when determining whether or not to award alimony:
Courts have discretion when determining the amount of alimony to award and how long it will be paid. There is no set formula that New Jersey family law judges are required to follow. After considering the aforementioned factors, the court will set the amount to be paid and the duration based on the individual circumstances of each case.
If the court determines that alimony is appropriate, there are several different types that can be awarded, and the court can order just one form or combine one or more of them. They include:
There are multiple methods for making alimony payments, such as paper checks or direct deposit. Generally, the couple will decide on which to use. If the parties cannot agree, however, the court may order the paying spouse’s employer to withhold the funds to be sent directly to the receiving spouse through the state’s family support services.
In mediation, parties can agree to a lump sum or transfer ownership of certain assets to the other party as part of an alimony arrangement in lieu of monthly payments.
How long the paying spouse will be responsible for payments will vary depending on the individual details of the case. Some types of alimony do, however, have additional guidelines for when payments end. Limited duration alimony, for example, ends if the receiving spouse remarries or enters into a civil union. Permanent alimony has similar guidelines.
Rehabilitative and reimbursement alimony end if the court determines there is reason to terminate the order. The divorced parties can also agree to terminate alimony payments on their own.
Other than reimbursement alimony, either party can request a modification to an existing award if they experience a change in financial circumstance, such as the loss of a job. This is not to imply, however, that a court will always approve such a request. If both spouses have signed a written agreement not to change the order, however, this option may not be available. Your Lawrence Law family lawyer can give you more information about these matters and how to go about filing a petition to have an alimony court order modified.
Under New Jersey law, not every ex-spouse is entitled to receive alimony. Those who have previously been convicted of murder, manslaughter, or aggravated assault, whether by the state or by another jurisdiction, are ineligible. In addition, those who have been convicted of attempted murder or a conspiracy to murder are ineligible if the victim was their spouse.
If you find yourself facing a divorce, call Jeralyn Lawrence at Lawrence Law who can help you determine the chances that you might be ordered to pay alimony or whether you should request it. Contact us at (908) 645-1000 to see how we can help with your divorce case.