Alimony and Spousal Support

In New Jersey, a spouse may be entitled to ongoing financial assistance from his/her former spouse during the divorce process or litigation and after the divorce. This monetary support can be requested by either party. The court may require one spouse to make temporary payments to the other while the divorce is pending. This is called pendente lite spousal support.  After the divorce, alimony may be paid for a short or long period of time, a limited time or indefinitely.  There are four types of alimony in New Jersey; permanent (more appropriately defined as indefinite), rehabilitative, limited duration, and reimbursement.   Whether support is awarded depends upon factors such as (1) length of the marriage; (2) the income and earning ability of each party; (3) the educational background of each party; (4) the extent to which a party may have had his or her education or career interrupted by raising children; (5) the physical and emotional health of the parties; and (6) other financial and personal circumstances of each party as set forth in our state statutes. Which type of alimony, if any, might be appropriate in your case will depend upon many facts and factors that will have to be determined, weighed and analyzed before an opinion on alimony can be rendered by any attorney. Alimony may be modified at any time based on a substantial change in circumstances of one of either party.  Retirement, at or after the age of 65, is generally considered a change in circumstances which requires a review and possibly modification of alimony.  There is currently legislation pending before the New Jersey Legislature which may change the nature of alimony in the State of New Jersey. If you require more information about alimony, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced divorce and family law attorneys.

Child Support

In New Jersey, BOTH parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children. Depending on the custody agreement, one parent is typically required to pay child support on a regular basis to the other until the child or children are emancipated, which may continue beyond the age of 18 if the child is a full-time student or there is some other reason that the child is not emancipated. The amount of child support paid varies, depending on the parent’s income and the needs of the dependent children. Child support is generally determined by the Child Support Guidelines which have been promulgated by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, unless the parents’ joint NET income exceeds $3600.00 per week.  If that is the case, the child support is determined based upon statutory factors.  Child support is paid either directly to the receiving parent or through the New Jersey Family Support Center (Probation Department) and often by income withholding (wage execution).  For more information about child support, contact our office.

Division of Marital Property and Debt

The distribution of marital assets and allocation of marital debt between the parties in New Jersey is called “equitable distribution.”  The meaning of this term is generally what is considered to be fair under all of the circumstances.  Equitable distribution of assets is determined by a review of many statutory factors. Although the law does not automatically require a 50/50 distribution of assets and allocation of debt, the practical application of the statute by the courts tends to be 50/50.  Generally, assets acquired prior to a marriage which have remained the separate property of one spouse are considered exempt from equitable distribution, as are inheritances and gifts which remained separate property.    Assets subject to equitable distribution generally include the marital home, other real property, vehicles, bank accounts, savings/investment accounts, retirement accounts and pensions, personal property (furniture, electronics, appliances, jewelry, virtually everything in a home), and businesses.  Debts or liabilities subject to equitable distribution are typically mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, student loans and other personal loans.  With regard to the marital home, generally there are three options available to spouses; sell it and equitably divide the proceeds between them, or one of the parties retains the home and “buys-out” the other’s equitable interest either by refinancing the mortgage and taking more of a loan from the equity, or through creative offsets against other assets or liabilities. Generally, a party who retains real property which is subject to a mortgage in joint names will be required to refinance that mortgage in order to remove the other spouse’s name as an obligor of it.  It is important to note that marital fault (e.g., adultery, extreme cruelty, etc.) has no effect upon distribution of property or debt.

College Expense Contribution

New Jersey is one of the few states that requires divorced or non-married parents to contribute to their children’s college expenses and authorizes judges to allocate the cost of college between the parents. Many factors are taken into account in such a determination, including but not limited to the financial circumstances of the parents and child, the child’s ability, the financial resources and financial aid available. The court must also consider how the continuation of child support while the child attends college impacts the parties financially.