Alimony in the State of New Jersey

New Jersey has several different types of alimony. Those types are: rehabilitative alimony, limited duration alimony, reimbursement alimony (very rare) and permanent alimony. If one of these types of alimony applies to your case, it is most commonly paid in periodic payments such as monthly or weekly. Very rarely, a spouse may make a single lump sum payment to buy out the alimony obligation, but don’t count on this happening in your case mainly because of the possibility that the dependent spouse will receive the lump sum buyout and promptly remarry.

There are other reasons, but that is the main reason for which payors don’t usually opt for the up-front-lump-sum buy-out option. If you absolutely want an up-front-lump-sum-buy out for alimony and you are the payee spouse, you may have to take a significant discount on the dollars owed to you for that privilege.

There are thirteen statutory factors that in theory determine alimony. Since the thirteenth factor is “any other factors which the court may deem relevant,” there are really an infinite number of factors that theoretically go into the alimony determination. Of these thirteen plus factors, however, from a practical point of view they can be boiled down to the following factors which really do drive the determination: (1) the actual needs (expenses) of the recipient spouse and the ability of the paying spouse to pay alimony; (2) the duration of the marriage or civil union; (3) the age and health of the parties; (4) the standard of living established during the marriage or civil union; (5) the length of any absence from the job market (6) the earning capacities and the employability of the parties; and (7) the parental responsibilities of each party during the marriage or civil union. The other factors may be taken into consideration, but the factors listed above are always considered.

Before you focus on these factors, consult with your attorney. These are just factors and they may be discounted or even ignored by the Court under the factual circumstances of some cases. There are reams of published cases regarding alimony that drive Courts in one direction or the other, so a simple recitation of the statutory factors will not answer the question in any one case.

If your case is an alimony case, sometimes the parties’ attorneys will retain vocational experts to impute income to one or both spouses. These experts are necessary to assist the Court in deciding the actual need of the recipient spouse and/or ability of the paying spouse to pay alimony. Similarly, if the parties cannot agree on the standard of living attained during the marriage or civil union, the parties’ attorneys may retain accountants to go through the parties’ charge cards, checking account and cash withdrawal records to reconstruct the marital standard of living.

Unlike equitable distribution, alimony can be modified based upon a party’s “substantial change in financial circumstances.” This has become an especially delicate issue during the recession.

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