In a previous blog about alimony, we shared with you that several substantial changes have been made to New Jersey’s alimony law, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23. Despite opposition from critics that the reforms were insignificant, the sweeping changes reflect and include, the following:
- additional factors that family courts may consider when making alimony determinations;
- durational limits of alimony;
- when a payor spouse reaches retirement age;
- modification of alimony applications based on changes in circumstances; and
- factors for defining cohabitation for modification or termination of alimony.
Overall, the above changes do not apply retroactively to cases decided prior to the enactment of the amended law with regards to the alimony awards and duration of alimony sections of the settlement agreement or order. However, the law will apply to applications filed to modify alimony based on changes of circumstances for all cases decided before the enactment of the law and to all future cases. In our continuing three part series, we examine the changes to better educate those currently receiving or paying alimony, including those currently going through a divorce.
Changes Made To The Factors For Making Alimony Determinations
When making alimony determinations the courts look at several factors, which includes:
- reviewing of the needs of the supported spouse and the supporting spouse’s ability to pay alimony;
- how long the parties were married;
- the parties ages and health conditions;
- the earning capacity and ability of the parties;
- parental responsibilities of the parties, and
- equitable division of marital property.
The new law adds factors such as:
- consideration of the amount, nature, and length of pendente lite (temporary) support received when deciding final alimony award at the time of divorce;
- consideration of all factors without giving more weight to a particular factor over another factor; and
- doing away with the law that the supported spouse has a greater entitlement to a standard of living established during the marriage than the supporting spouse.
Determining Duration of Alimony in New Jersey
The statute now requires consideration of the divorcing parties’ need for separate residences along with the associated increases in living expenses on their ability to maintain a standard of living comparable to what established during the marriage. The new changes have also replaced permanent alimony with “open durational” alimony. The total duration of alimony shall not exceed the duration of marriage for marriages less than 20 years, unless the court determines that there are exceptional circumstances, such as:
- the ages of the parties at marriage in comparison to the age at the time of the when the alimony is awarded;
- the degree and extent to how financially dependent one spouse was on the other spouse;
- whether one spouse gave up their career and supported the other spouse’s career;
- amount by which the marital estate was divided;
- whether the supported spouse gave up his/her career to take care of the children and their ability to be self-supporting; and
- tax considerations.
The Bronzino Law Firm: Knowledgeable Ocean County Alimony Lawyer
If you are facing a claim of alimony, or wish to seek alimony from your spouse, please call our office at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your legal options. We will review your case, advise you of your rights and responsibilities, and help you make informed decision in your case.