In our firm’s family law practice and when we serve as Early Settlement Panelists to mediate divorce cases for the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part, Chancery Division, perhaps the most common issue in the overwhelming majority of divorce cases involves the issue of ……. alimony! When clients meet with us at the beginning of a case, invariably, the most burning questions they ask us are:
Will I have to pay alimony to my husband or wife, if I get divorced?
Am I entitled to receive alimony? If so, what type of alimony? How long will my alimony last? The next inquiry is always, and perhaps the most important one to the client is “HOW MUCH ALIMONY WILL I HAVE TO PAY? or, “HOW MUCH ALIMONY AM I ENTITLED TO RECEIVE?”
We are frequently asked, “What if I want to live with someone after I start or after I finish my divorce? How will this impact the alimony? What if I am receiving alimony and my former spouse dies?
These are ALL good, important questions that we attempt to answer for our prospective clients, and guide and counsel them in their divorce action.
Unfortunately, if you are looking for a quick answer right now from reading this blog, you won’t find it. This is because the answers to these questions are not arrived at by the mere consult of a formula, or a page in a book, where you simply plug in some income data, some dates, and other information and it spews out the amount, the type, or the duration of alimony that you will have to pay or you would be entitled to receive, as the case may be. Indeed, that IS the case, generally, as to how child support is calculated (i.e.- by use of the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines). Not so when it comes to alimony!
Instead, the answer to these questions comes from years and years of experience in applying and advocating the factors found in the New Jersey Case Law and Statutes which set forth the criteria which allows, in fact, directs the judges and the family law attorneys to consider when making a determination as to alimony. Of course, ultimately, it is the judge’s determination that will govern if the parties, despite assistance of their counsel, have not been able to settle their case without the necessity for the judge to conduct a trial after which the judge will enter the alimony award. Fortunately, with experienced legal counsel, statistically, approximately 90-95% of all divorce cases that enter the system will, eventually, settle; that is, the parties and their counsel will be able to achieve an agreement with respect to the issues in their case, including alimony, without having to endure the emotionally and oftentimes, financially draining process of a trial. And, if a trail is necessary because of the failure of your spouse to be reasonable, the attorneys at Goldstein Law Group LLP are experienced trial attorneys that zealously represents our client’s interest to pursue the objectives of our clients and a result that is important to our client.
In general, alimony is paid to an ex-spouse by his or her former spouse for a specified period of years, or an unlimited duration, or until a certain contemplated event may occur which allows a dependent spouse to become fully or partially able to contribute to his or her own support (“rehabilitative alimony”). Such spousal support would typically be awarded to a financially dependent spouse in order to ensure that both former spouses continue to live a substantially similar quality of life (standard of living) following the end of their marriage. In New Jersey, alimony will not normally be awarded when each member of the former couple has a comparable earning capacity. Although it may feel that way, it is important to note that alimony is not designed to serve as a punishment or a reward for either member of the divorcing couple. It is important for you to know, as a current divorce litigant or if you are contemplating moving forward with a divorce in the future, what the statute in New Jersey directs as the factors which a court must consider in determining the myriad facts in a specific case before a definitive answer can be given to the following burning questions that most divorce litigants want to know almost immediately when they consult with us about a divorce:
To have a better understanding yourself, a look at the fourteen(14) statutory factors which the court is obligated to consider in making a determination as to alimony, is indispensable. We’ve made it easy for you. Here they are: