New Jersey Alimony Attorneys
Factors That Affect Your Alimony Settlement
Spousal support (also known as alimony) represents regular payments made from one spouse to the other during a separation or after a divorce. The purpose is to recognize the recipient spouse’s contribution to the marriage and to assist that spouse to achieve financial independence where possible.
If you are divorcing after being married for less than five years, the court will assume you have kept the same ability to support yourself that you had before marriage. Each spouse is expected to be substantially independent and self-supporting within a short period of time.
For longer marriages (five years or more), extended or even lifetime support may be ordered.
To decide the alimony settlement, the court takes into consideration a variety of factors:
- Each spouse’s assumed earning capacity
- The property and debts received by each spouse
- The physical and mental health of the receiving spouse
- Any disparity in earning capacity between the spouses
- Duration of the marriage
- Other income
- Contributions to a spouse’s career or education
- Contribution as a home-maker
Types of Spousal Support Arrangements
There are several different arrangements for alimony or spousal support. Each arrangement is based on the varying circumstances and needs of the individual.
In a rehabilitative alimony arrangement, fixed spousal support is paid for a specific period of time. This award can be modified based on upgrades in education or new work skills.
Some states allow a spouse to pay the total alimony obligation at the time of divorce. This is called lump sum support. The amount is usually equal to the total amount of future monthly payments. A possible drawback of such an arrangement is that there may be significant tax consequences, so make sure you consult with a professional to discuss your options.
Permanent alimony involves paying support for an indefinite period of time. Although there is no fixed date when support ends, it should not be expected that payment will be for life. In order to alter such an arrangement, you must petition the court for a change.
Modification & Termination
There are ways in which alimony can be modified or terminated. Most of them are dependent on changing circumstances.
Payment obligations end with one of two events:
- The death of either spouse
- The spouse receiving alimony gets remarried
A few other circumstances may change the amount a spouse is required to pay:
- The paying spouse is either retired or terminated from work
- A substantial increase in the income of the spouse receiving alimony
- The receiving spouse lives with another person romantically (cohabitation)
Alimony & Taxes
Starting in 2019, new alimony settlements will be affected by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Alimony payments will no longer be tax deductible, and payments received will be considered taxable income.
Though settlements made before 2019 won’t be affected, this change means individuals going through a divorce will have even more reason than before to fight for a favorable outcome.