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NJ Alimony FAQ

Is Alimony Guaranteed in New Jersey?

There is no guarantee that one spouse will receive alimony in a New Jersey divorce. Alimony is determined on a case-by-case basis and is awarded to the dependent spouse when the circumstances warrant. A supported spouse may be entitled to receive alimony if there is a significant differential between the two incomes of the parties getting divorced. In rendering a determination as to whether alimony will be awarded the courts are required to take into consideration the statutory factors that exist under the law. Those factors include but are not limited to the duration of the marriage, the need of the supported spouse to receive the alimony payments and the ability to pay off the supporting spouse, responsibility for the children, the health of the parties, prior work history and level of education of the parties, etc.

The greater the differential in the respective parties' incomes and the longer the marriage, the more likely it is that alimony will be awarded. Every divorce case is different and there are no set rules and guidelines in place that can be relied on to predict with certainty whether or not you will be entitled to receive alimony. An experienced New Jersey alimony lawyer will be able to review with you your particular set of circumstances and analyze how the facts on your case interrelate with the New Jersey alimony laws. The New Jersey divorce courts are courts of equity meaning that they strive to do what is fair under the circumstances. For the most part people who are entitled to receive alimony are awarded alimony.

What is the difference between alimony and spousal support in New Jersey?

There is no difference between alimony and spousal support. Both are terms that refer to one spouse having a financial obligation to support a spouse either during the pendency of a divorce or after the divorce is finalized for a period of time. Typically, when support is paid during the pendency of the divorce proceeding it is referred to as spousal support, and when it is paid after the conclusion of the proceeding it is referred to as alimony. Alimony is an older and somewhat outdated term that is more often than not associated with men paying support to women. Spousal support has nothing to do with gender as the New Jersey support statute is gender neutral. Either a man or a woman can receive alimony if the circumstances so warrant.

There are different types of support, including temporary support which is typically paid during the pendency of the divorce, and long-term support which is paid for a period of time after the divorce has been concluded. Alimony/spousal support have two main components that need to be decided: 1) the amount of alimony/spousal support to be paid, and 2) the duration of those payments.

Alimony/spousal support is one of the most important issues to be addressed in any New Jersey divorce proceeding. Alimony can have a major impact on the financial future of both parties after the finalization of the divorce. It is therefore very important that the spousal support component of any divorce is handled carefully by an experienced New Jersey alimony/spousal support attorney.

Can a woman get alimony if she filed for divorce?

Whether or not a woman files for divorce in New jersey has no impact whatsoever on her entitlement to receive alimony. Anyone who is in an unhappy marriage has the right to obtain a divorce. Just because you are the one who elects to file does not limit your rights at all. If such laws were in place, it would severely impact an individual's freedom to move on from an unhealthy relationship.

Correspondingly, if your spouse files for divorce and you are entitled to receive alimony your spouse's decision to file will have no impact on your ability to obtain alimony if in fact you are entitled to receive alimony under New Jersey law.

There is nothing proven or affected by who files for divorce first. Additionally, for the most part it does not even matter who is at fault for the divorce taking place. 

Alimony very simply is based on the financial need of the supported spouse as well as the ability to pay on behalf of the supporting spouse. As indicated above, it does not matter who files for divorce, if the supported spouse forgoes career opportunities to raise children or otherwise has enhanced the supporting spouse's ability to earn income, that person is entitled to alimony.

Does cheating affect alimony in New Jersey?

New Jersey is what is called a no-fault divorce state. Whether one spouse has engaged in an extra-marital affair typically has no impact on whether alimony is awarded or not. Alimony is decided on a case-by-case basis. The theory behind no fault divorce is that a divorcing couple should be able to get out of a bad marriage. In all New Jersey divorces, alimony is determined by the courts relying on the statutory criteria that has been established by law which requires the court to take into consideration various factors in rendering an alimony award. Those factors include such items as the length of the marriage, disparity of income between the parties, ability to pay off the payor spouse and corresponding need of the recipient spouse. Noticeably absent from the statutory factors is the concept of marital fault. Martial fault and adultery may be considered by the court in only extreme types of cases. 

On its own, cheating or adultery is not likely to affect a divorce in New Jersey. However, if marital funds have been utilized to fund an illicit relationship arguments can be made to recoup a portion of those funds as it can be argued that those funds were not expended on marital purposes. The act of committing adultery is not a crime in New Jersey. Without question when a spouse commits adultery it causes stress to the other spouse and is not acceptable behavior. If your spouse has committed adultery, you have the right to cite the adultery as the basis for proceeding with your divorce.

How long do you have to be married to get alimony in New Jersey?

There is no set time period for a marriage to last in order for you to be able to receive alimony. In New Jersey divorces alimony is determined based on the actual need of the recipient and the ability of the other spouse to pay. The length of the marriage is also a factor that courts will consider in determining the duration of the alimony payments. Courts will also examine the standard of living that was enjoyed during the marriage and the likelihood that both parties can maintain a reasonably similar lifestyle after the divorce has been finalized. There have been many divorce cases in New Jersey involving short term marriages wherein the supported spouse has received an alimony award.

Typically, in a marriage that is 10 years or less in duration alimony payments when warranted are awarded for approximately one-half of the length of the marriage. By way of example, if someone were to be married for six years and be entitled to receive alimony, the alimony would be paid over the course of a three-year term. Under New Jersey law if you are married for less than twenty years the duration of the alimony payments cannot exceed the length of the marriage. In the event you have been married for more than twenty years you may be entitled to open durational alimony, which is alimony that is awarded without any definitive end date.

Related Articles:

How Alimony is Calculated in New Jersey

Effect of Retirement on Alimony Payments in NJ

Alimony and Taxation in NJ Divorce Actions

The Basics of Modifiable and Non-Modifiable Alimony

NJ Divorce Lawyer: Understanding How Alimony in NJ is Determined

NJ Family Law Attorney Explains Reimbursement Alimony

Enforcing Alimony Payments in NJ

Can Alimony Be Reversed in NJ?

NJ Statute: 2A:34-23b. Alimony factors.

NJ Statute: 2A:34-23. Alimony, maintenance.

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