A brief summary of alimony in NJ

New Jersey’s Alimony Law: How It Works and What It Means for You

In New Jersey, alimony is a form of financial support that can be awarded in a divorce settlement. It is an important factor to consider when determining the outcome of a divorce. This blog post will provide an overview of New Jersey’s alimony law, how it works, and what it means for those considering or going through a divorce. We’ll discuss the various factors that courts consider when determining whether alimony should be awarded, the different types of alimony available, and how the new changes to the law may affect you.

The Current Law
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to the other during or after a divorce or legal separation. In New Jersey, alimony is designed to help the recipient spouse meet their financial needs while adjusting to life after divorce.
There are four different types of alimony that may be granted in New Jersey: temporary, limited duration, rehabilitative, and open durational. Temporary alimony is awarded when the divorce is still pending and can last up to the finalization of the divorce. Limited duration alimony is typically awarded when the marriage has lasted less than 20 years and payments will stop when either spouse dies or when the receiving spouse remarries. Rehabilitative alimony is intended to provide support to the receiving spouse while they gain skills and qualifications to become financially independent. Finally, open durational (fomerly known as permanent alimony) is for longer-term support for a spouse who cannot become financially independent due to age, illness, or disability.
The amount and duration of alimony in New Jersey is determined by several factors including the need and income of both spouses, the standard of living during marriage, the duration of the marriage, the marital contributions of both spouses, and any other factors that may be deemed relevant by the court. In New Jersey, alimony is based on the concept of equitable distribution which means the amount of alimony should be fair and equitable for both spouses.
In summary, alimony in New Jersey provides financial support to a spouse who needs it during or after a divorce. Alimony can be temporary, limited duration, rehabilitative, or n durational and the amount and duration are determined by various factors such as need and income of both spouses, length of marriage, and marital contributions. Alimony is intended to be fair and equitable for both parties and should help the receiving spouse adjust to life after divorce.

Who Qualifies for Alimony?
In New Jersey, alimony is available to spouses who are no longer living together and are separated or divorced. To be eligible, the spouse seeking alimony must be financially dependent on the other spouse. This could include if the dependent spouse is unable to support themselves due to a physical or mental disability, has given up a career to care for children or home, or has made substantially less income than their partner. The court also takes into account the length of the marriage and both spouses’ earning potential when deciding whether alimony is appropriate. The court may also consider other factors, such as the lifestyle of the couple while they were together, before making a decision.

How Long Does Alimony Last?
In New Jersey, alimony is generally awarded for a predetermined period of time, depending on the circumstances of the case. There are different types of alimony available and each type has its own duration.
Rehabilitative Alimony: This form of alimony is usually temporary, intended to help the receiving party become self-sufficient by supporting them while they pursue education or training. The length of rehabilitative alimony can vary widely depending on the amount of time needed to complete the recipient’s educational or training goals.
Limited Duration Alimony: This type of alimony is also typically temporary and lasts for a specified period of time. The court will determine the amount and length of payments based on the couple’s circumstances.
Permanent Alimony: Permanent alimony is the longest lasting type of alimony and is usually awarded when there is a long-term marriage where one spouse is not capable of becoming self-sufficient. In New Jersey, this type of alimony does not have a predetermined end date and instead continues until either spouse dies or until the receiving spouse remarries.
Reimbursement Alimony: This form of alimony is used to reimburse one party for expenses related to the other’s career such as tuition or other costs. It typically lasts only as long as the payments necessary to reimburse the paying party.
Lump Sum Alimony: This form of alimony is a one-time payment that is made in order to compensate one spouse for financial losses during the marriage. It does not last beyond the payment and is generally used in cases where permanent alimony would not be appropriate.
In New Jersey, the court will take into consideration factors such as the length of the marriage, financial need, earning capacity and standard of living when determining how long alimony should last. Each case is unique, so it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can provide guidance and advice throughout the process.

How Is Alimony Paid?
Alimony payments in New Jersey are typically paid on a monthly basis. The payment amount and the length of time for which alimony is paid depend on the financial situation of both parties and the specific terms of the agreement. Generally, the paying party is responsible for making direct payments to the receiving party, either through cash payments or money orders.
In some cases, the court may order payments to be made through wage garnishment, in which a portion of the paying party’s wages are sent directly to the receiving party before they are paid out to the paying party. The amount of wage garnishment depends on the financial situation of the paying party and the court’s orders. In New Jersey, an employer must garnish up to 25% of an employee’s disposable earnings, though this amount can be reduced if the employee is supporting another family.
Another payment method used in New Jersey is through the Office of Child Support Services (OCSS). Under this arrangement, OCSS will make the payments on behalf of the paying party to the receiving party. This method is typically used when one or both parties are having difficulty making regular payments or are unable to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement.
Finally, in certain situations, it may be possible for the paying party to make payments in other forms, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, or other assets. These arrangements must be approved by the court and are usually determined on a case-by-case basis.
No matter which payment method is used, alimony is a legally binding obligation that must be met by both parties in order for it to remain valid and enforceable.

What Happens if There is a Change in Circumstances?
In New Jersey, alimony may be modified if there is a change in the financial circumstances of either party. This could include either party losing their job or experiencing an increase or decrease in their income. The court will evaluate both parties’ incomes to determine whether there has been a significant change that would warrant a modification to the alimony order. If it is determined that a change in circumstances has occurred, the court may modify the amount of alimony that is being paid or suspend it altogether. It is important to note that a modification or suspension of alimony will not be retroactive and will only apply to payments made after the date of the modification. In New Jersey, it is the responsibility of the party requesting the modification to prove that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. Furthermore, New Jersey courts must consider all relevant factors when deciding whether or not to grant a modification. These factors can include but are not limited to the age and health of each spouse, each spouse’s current standard of living, each spouse’s earning capacity, each spouse’s current assets, each spouse’s education level, as well as any other relevant factors deemed by the court as appropriate. Generally speaking, if one spouse’s financial situation improves significantly while the other spouse remains stagnant financially then a court may grant a reduction in alimony payments. Similarly, if one spouse experiences a decline in income then they may be eligible for an increase in alimony payments. Ultimately, it is up to the discretion of New Jersey family courts to decide whether or not to modify an existing alimony agreement based on any changes in circumstance.

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Filing taxes and divorce

As if getting divorced, isn’t stressful enough, this time of year as additional factors situations that must be considered. Most notably, parties must determine how they the file their taxes. First, let me say that I am not a tax professional, and cannot give my clients tax advice, and I will not provide any tax advice in this post. I strongly advise anyone to consult with an experienced tax profession if you at any stage of the divorce process.

Generally speaking, it is advisable for parties to file a joint return when allowed as there are advantageous built into the tax code that are not available under the alternative filing designations. A joint return is permissible for any year in which you were married at the end of the calendar year. This means that if a Complaint for Divorce was filed in 2022 but your case was not finalized in 2022 you can still file a joint return. Should the divorce be finalized in 2023, you can no longer file a joint return.

It is important that you are aware of and understand the information being supplied on a joint return. Do not simply sign a return that is presented to you as you can be held liable for any violations of state and federal tax codes.

Post-divorce it is important that your tax filings comport with any provisions of your settlement agreement or judicial determination as to who can claim the children, who is responsible for taxes on the sale of the marital residence or the transfer of other assets. You may find yourself responsible for filing your own taxes for the first time in a long time after your divorce. Begin the process early and work with your tax professional to make sure they are done correctly.

Divorce is complicated. Taxes are complicated. Working with both an experienced matrimonial attorney and a skilled tax professional can be invaluable.

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UPDATE to prior Court in crisis post

Previously I wrote about the looming crisis in the NJ family courts due to an extremely high number of judicial vacancies. Well, earlier this week the NJ Supreme Court released an official notice that family law trials are suspended in 2 vicinages thereby affecting litigants in multiple counties throughout New Jersey

The following in the press release issued by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner:

For immediate release: Feb. 7, 2023
Statement of Chief Justice on Suspension of Civil and Matrimonial Trials
in Two Vicinages Due to Vacancy Crisis
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner issued the following statement today:
“Because of the current high number of judicial vacancies, trials in the Civil
Division and matrimonial trials will not be conducted in two vicinages, beginning
Feb. 21, 2023, except for very limited circumstances. Those trials will be suspended
for the immediate future.
At this time, there are 69 vacancies throughout the trial courts – more than one out of
every six positions statewide. That imposes heightened responsibilities on sitting
judges who handle thousands of proceedings and motions each month. In addition,
for the past three years, the court system has operated with an average of more than
50 vacancies. That situation, along with the effects of the COVID crisis, has
contributed to delays in handling individual cases and substantial increases in
Circumstances today are particularly challenging in two vicinages. In Vicinage 13,
which is comprised of Hunterdon, Somerset, and Warren counties, there are five
vacancies out of a total of 20 judicial positions. In Vicinage 15, comprised of
Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties, there are nine vacancies out of 28

The Judiciary prioritizes proceedings in which an individual’s liberty is at stake, like
criminal and juvenile delinquency matters; cases that present potential emergencies,
like complaints of domestic violence; and other time-sensitive matters. In light of the
high percentage of vacancies in Vicinages 13 and 15, and the particular challenges
multi-county vicinages face, there are simply not enough judges at this time to
conduct civil and matrimonial trials in either vicinage.
Without additional relief, we may well face the same situation in other vicinages in
the near future.
We recognize that when the doors of the courthouse are closed – even partially –
people entitled to their day in court suffer real harm. We therefore respectfully call
on the Executive and Legislative branches to address the current vacancy crisis in
Vicinages 13 and 15 as well as other parts of the state. We are prepared to assist in
any way that would be helpful.

We look forward to a resumption of all proceedings in both vicinages as soon as

The immediate and practical impact for individuals living in the affected counties is that if you cannot resolve your divorce, you cannot get a trial. Lives will be in limbo. The consequences can be profound and the ripple effects as new cases entire the system will clog an already overwhelmed court system.

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College costs and divorce

We are approaching a time of year filled with angst for high school seniors and their parents: college decisions and the costs that come with those decisions. For divorced families, there may be added concern and confusion. The Durst Firm can help. If you had questions about your potential obligation to contribute towards the college costs of your child, contact the firm to schedule a consultation. It’s never too soon to plan and prepare.

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A crisis in NJ Courts and why you should care.

Judges in NJ are appointed. This requires action on the part of our legislators and Governor. Simply put, our leaders are failing to act and the lives of NJ residents are being greatly affected.

According to NJSBA President Jeralyn Lawrence, their are 66 Superior Court judicial vacancies and 1 Supreme Court vacancy. There are candidates ready and willing to fill these vacancies. It is time for our government officials to fulfill their responsibilities for the benefit of the citizens of NJ.

Chances are that you or someone you know is being negatively impacted each day these judicial vacancies go infilled. My practice is devoted to family law. It has been my focus for over 20 years. I am committed to guiding my clients through the court system as expeditiously and effectively as possible. Doing so is a promise I make to them when they place their trust and hard earned dollars with me. Our Governor and legislators are hindering my ability to make good on that promise.

So who is being affected? Which of your friends, neighbors, And co-workers are having their lives turned upside down by and understaffed judiciary? Anyone seeking a divorce. Certain counties have stopped accepting new motions and are not scheduling trials. Those wrongfully accused of domestic violence are who are being kept from their homes and children for months. Children and financially dependent spouses who cannot obtain support or enforce support orders already in place. Children who can’t begin or continue college because one or both of their parents can’t be ordered to pay since courts aren’t hearing motions. Real people with real problems are being denied help from the Courts.

For many, it’s already too late to correct the consequences of a derelict government and an understaffed judiciary. But it’s not to late for others. We need our officials to do their jobs; govern for the benefit of our residents.

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