When two people get married or enter a civil union, they typically pool together their financial resources. In the event of divorce separating those resources in an equitable manner can become challenging. If you are currently facing the possibility of divorce and are wondering what this will mean for your finances, the family law attorneys at Villani & Deluca P.C. are committed to providing you with competent legal counsel every step of the way. We understand the complexities of life-changing events such as a divorce, and we are here to guide you through the coming months.
One important question you may be faced with is how New Jersey laws will impact your livelihood and standard of living post-divorce. New Jersey's alimony laws* govern the payments or spousal support that one party in a divorce is required to pay to the other following a separation or divorce. In many instances, parties resort to litigation to resolve any perceived inequitable distribution of assets, and the duration, schedule, and amount of alimony payments. Each divorce is unique, and the types of support New Jersey courts award is unique to each case.
Matters of family law involving divorce and alimony can be complex, requiring the attention and skills of highly experienced New Jersey family lawyers and divorce attorneys. Whether you are a payee or a recipient of spousal support, your financial future and well-being is on the line. Our attorneys will help you analyze your case in light of New Jersey's Alimony laws, taking into consideration the specific facts of your marriage, such as how long you were married, the income of both parties, and the financial needs of both the paying and receiving spouses.
We know that some of this may seem confusing in the moment, so we have answered some questions you may have regarding alimony payments under the family law of New Jersey. If other questions arise about your divorce, our attorneys are available to provide answers tailored to your specific situation. Reach out to us 24/7 for a free consultation at (732) 709-7757. We also offer free in-person consultation if you prefer to walk into our office. We are located at 703 Richmond Avenue (Route 35) in Point Pleasant Beach.
*New Jersey Alimony Reform Bill of 2014; NJ Rev Stat § 2A:34-23.1 (2020)
New Jersey Alimony FAQs
What is Alimony?
When two parties are involved in a separation or divorce proceeding, the money paid by one party to support the other is known as alimony or spousal support. Alimony can be ordered by the court during the separation or divorce proceedings or following the conclusion of the divorce process.
The family law of New Jersey considers the potential financial devastation that divorce can inflict on a spouse with less financial assets and makes provision for equitable division of assets, which may include periodic payments by the more financially stable spouse for sustaining the needs and lifestyle of the spouse with less assets. Payment of alimony in New Jersey can no longer be awarded for a lifetime (permanent alimony); alimony payment is restricted by law to the number of years the two parties were married*.
How is Alimony determined in New Jersey?
Several factors go into the award, length, frequency, and amount of alimony that spouses in divorce-related proceedings will have to pay. Some of these factors New Jersey courts will consider in applying the family law of New Jersey include the length of your marriage, the health and income of both parties, and the specific needs of each spouse. Once a court has determined that one party in a divorce is entitled to spousal support, the court will assess the amount of alimony due by comparing the financial needs and incomes of both parties*. Where child custody and support-related issues are involved, the court may order the amount paid in child support before ordering the amount to be paid as alimony.
New Jersey courts also consider other factors, such as each party's financial and non-financial contributions in the marriage—time, career advancement, and monetary sacrifice made by one spouse while the other obtained education—and other factors the court deems relevant.
*NJ Rev Stat § 2A:34-23.1 (2020)
How long does a spouse have to pay alimony in New Jersey?
Generally, the number of years both parties were married prior to the divorce will be taken into consideration in determining how many years spousal support payments will continue. For instance, the family law of New Jersey stipulates that divorce for marriages and civil unions of less than 20 years will attract alimony payments for a period not exceeding the length of the marriage or civil union. Whether the law orders a limited duration alimony (for a short term, where the recipient spouse is employable) or open durational alimony (paid as long as the recipient cannot support themselves otherwise) depends on the circumstances of each case. In certain instances, for instance, where the recipient party is severely incapacitated, even remarriage of the recipient spouse does not terminate alimony payments.
How can I avoid alimony in New Jersey?
Once the court has ordered alimony in a separation or divorce, the payee would need to make payments as ordered. Any party may however file a motion to modify or terminate spousal support. There are certain instances where a party can modify the duration, terms of payment, and amount of alimony. Alimony payments can be discontinued when the payee in an alimony award can prove an involuntary decrease in income. The court will consider the circumstances surrounding the income loss and the financial circumstances of the recipient spouse in deciding on the modification or termination of spousal support. A payee may ask the court to discontinue the alimony payments when the recipient spouse remarries or gets romantically involved with a new partner.
Parties in separation or divorce proceedings can also come to a written agreement between themselves to reduce or increase the amount of alimony. Any desired change to a substantial modification after this agreement requires a motion to be filed with the court showing that the modification was involuntary and unanticipated.
Under New Jersey Statutes, a court can terminate alimony for bad acts committed by the recipient party. A recipient of alimony payment may have their spousal support payments discontinued if such recipient party is convicted of a capital offense* which resulted in the death or serious bodily injury to a family member of a divorcing party, after a civil union or marriage to the payee.
*N.J.S. 2C:11-3; N.J.S. 2C:11-4; N.J.S. 2C:11-2
How much does a divorce lawyer cost in New Jersey?
The costs of hiring divorce lawyers vary depending on several factors, some peculiar to each case. The average hourly rate for New Jersey divorce lawyers can range from $150 to $500 depending on the experience of the lawyer and the complexity of the case. A divorce attorney would most likely require a retainer fee to ensure that the lawyer can continue working on your case.
There are also other costs to consider. For instance, filing a Complaint about Divorce with the court costs $325 where children are involved; $300 otherwise. When expert services are needed for asset valuation or for a health assessment to resolve child custody or child support disputes, the costs can increase even further. If parties agree on the terms of a divorce or have a mediator facilitate their agreement, the costs of hiring an attorney will be significantly reduced. Where communication has broken down, it becomes more difficult to negotiate certain aspects of a New Jersey divorce such as the division of assets, which would then necessitate increased lawyer's fees and legal costs.
Villani & Deluca P.C. alimony attorneys are always ready to help protect your interests, whether you are a payee or recipient under New Jersey spousal support laws. Divorce is not the end, there are remedies available to you in your alimony or child custody and support battle and we will work with you in and out of the court to ensure that your spouse complies with the spousal support order or alimony obligations.
Seeking an alimony attorney urgently? Contact us at (732) 709-7757 with your questions anytime, any day and we'll be glad to schedule your free online or in-person consultation.