Does New Jersey Have an Alimony Calculator?
Does New Jersey have an alimony calculator when it comes to determining the amount of alimony payments? The short answer is technically no. There is no simple formula in which to plug in a few numbers and arrive at an alimony payment amount. Rather, the courts consider a wide variety of factors in calculating alimony, which is otherwise termed spousal support.
While not every divorce involves spousal support, when it is a possibility, it is beneficial to get legal advice from an experienced alimony lawyer in New Jersey. An attorney who is knowledgeable about divorce and its related complex issues will help ensure that you are treated fairly when it comes to the amount of alimony payments, whether you expect to pay it or are seeking spousal support.
How is Alimony Calculated in NJ?
Alimony is not always determined by the courts, but rather the conversation starts through negotiations between spouses and their respective attorneys, or with a third-party qualified divorce and family law mediator. Should you be able to agree to terms without court involvement, then those detailed terms need to be put down in a comprehensive agreement; alimony is just one issue of many that need to be resolved and written in a more global divorce agreement (otherwise known as a Marital Settlement Agreement). When you can reach agreement on your own, it gives you more control over the outcome and can save you in time, money, and stress. Alimony is often one of the most contentious areas of divorce, and if you don’t have someone good in your corner to help negotiate this, then the issue will be brought to the Court and the Judge will have to decide after a lengthy and costly trial.
Factors Courts Consider in Deciding the Amount and Length of Spousal Support Payments
Under N.J.S.A 2A:34-23, the New Jersey courts first consider the need of one spouse for alimony and the ability of the other spouse to pay it. Then they consider the following factors in making alimony determinations:
- How long the couple has been married;
- The ages and health of both spouses;
- The incomes, educations and earning capacities of both parties;
- The standard of living during the marriage;
- How long the spouse seeking alimony may have been unemployed;
- Whether one spouse contributed more to caring for children at the expense of their career;
- How long it may take the spouse seeking alimony to gain education or training to find appropriate employment;
- The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair;
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment;
- Whether either spouse has additional income from investments;
- Any other factors the court may deem relevant in making alimony decisions.
You can see that calculating alimony goes far beyond a clear-cut mathematical equation. Every divorce is different, and courts must carefully consider each factor in relation to the divorcing couple’s unique circumstances. Because determining alimony payments involves so many complexities, you can increase your chances of a fair, or at least acceptable, alimony outcome when you have an experienced alimony attorney advocating for your interests. At Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC, our skillful Hackensack attorney will work to limit how much you may have to pay in alimony, or work to get you what you need if you are the recipient. Call us at (201) 880-9770 to arrange a time to speak with an attorney.
Is Alimony Calculated from Gross Income in NJ?
Gross income is typically used in calculating the amount of alimony payments in New Jersey. Gross income includes the total of earned and unearned wages, salaries, tips, commissions, bonuses, business income, capital gains, investment dividends, rental income or other income before taxes and other deductions are taken out. The court will look at the gross income of both parties. If one of the spouses is voluntarily unemployed or is underemployed, income may be imputed to them. What this means is that the court will review the person’s educational background, work history, ability to earn currently, and/or the average salary according to the department of labor in the person’s line of work to determine their earning capacity.
How Do Tax Laws Affect Alimony?
For divorces finalized on or after January 1, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) treats the alimony payments like child support. This means that alimony payments are no longer tax-deductible to the paying spouse, nor are they reportable income for the recipient on Federal Returns.
If you finalized your spousal support agreement and/or received your support order before January 1, 2019, the paying spouse should be able to deduct alimony payments, and the supported spouse must report and pay taxes on the support unless your divorce agreement specifies otherwise.
However, New Jersey allows for the deduction of alimony payments for payors and requires recipients to report payments as taxable income on their state tax returns; this is an important distinction to know because this needs to be part of the conversation if attempting to negotiate alimony and can absolutely affect the ultimate alimony amount paid or received one way or another.
How Long Does Alimony Last?
If you have to pay alimony, in addition to how much you may have to pay, you are probably wondering how long you will have to pay it? There are different types of alimony in New Jersey that include:
- Pendente lite alimony – This is temporary alimony paid during separation (or during the divorce process) and before divorce is finalized to help the lower-earning spouse with living expenses during the legal proceedings.
- Rehabilitative alimony – Rehabilitative alimony may be ordered for a set time period while the lower-income spouse looks for an appropriate job, or most likely scenerio, takes the time necessary to gain education or training to become financially self-sustaining.
- Reimbursement alimony – Reimbursement alimony is spousal support that repays a spouse who supported the other one through an advanced education, with the expectation that he or she would benefit from the increased earning capacity afforded by that education.
- Limited-duration alimony – This type of alimony may be awarded typically in marriages under 20 years in duration and it cannot exceed the number of years you were married.
- Open-durational alimony – Open-durational (previously called permanent alimony) alimony is typically awarded in marriages beyond 20 years or more and may continue until there is a change in circumstances that warrants its ending, such as remarriage of the receiving party or retirement at full retirement age of the paying party.
What type of alimony you may have to pay or may receive is very dependent upon your unique circumstances. When we learn the details of your marriage and divorce, we can guide you in understanding whether you may have to pay alimony, may be able to receive it and how much an alimony award may be and for how long.
Reach Out to an Experienced New Jersey Alimony Lawyer for Help
It can be frustrating to be ordered to pay alimony, especially if you feel your former spouse was underemployed during the marriage and is still not trying hard enough to earn an adequate income; or maybe you feel like you are entitled to alimony because you put your career aside to take care of children to the benefit of your family and didn’t have a chance to be financially self-supporting. Either way, we understand the feelings of distress and anxiousness around this topic and will walk you through it (while giving you an education in the process) step by step.
Our knowledgeable alimony lawyer at Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC will strongly stand up for your interests in ensuring a fair payment with the goal not to wipe you out financially. And if you are seeking alimony in divorce, we can help you as well. Our firm also assists clients in having court-ordered alimony payments enforced. To find out more about how we can help you, call us today at (201) 880-9770 to arrange a consultation with a skillful family lawyer.