Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Determining Spousal Support in New Jersey

Getting a divorce is not an easy decision. The process can be overwhelming enough, without having to consider the logistics of it. One of the logistical aspects that it is important to think about is alimony, also referred to as spousal support.

 If you are currently getting a divorce and want to know more about determining spousal support in New Jersey, contact an attorney. An experienced alimony attorney can help you navigate the divorce process, and can work towards a positive outcome for you.

How is Spousal Support Determined in New Jersey?

Approximately 98% of divorces in New Jersey come to an agreement; a consent between the parties. Only 2% actually go to trial. When it comes to determining spousal support in New Jersey, there are many parties that have a role in deciding the conditions. It could be the divorcing parties, their attorneys, or the judge.

The Judge is involved in the case at the settlement conference or when the case does go to trial. The judge makes a determination unless there has been a stipulation or agreement by the parties as to what the amount should be.

The important factors that typically carry more weight as to whether or not spousal support should be paid is the length of the marriage, the age of the parties, the length of the absence from the job market and whether or not pendente lite support has been given

Factors That Go into a Spousal Support Determination

Factors that go into determining spousal support in New Jersey include:

  • Standard of living
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Financial assets
  • financial obligations
  • Ability of parties to pay
  • Duration of Marriage
  • Age of the parties
  • Education level
  • Physical and emotional health of the parties

These are just some of the 14 factors that are instrumental in determining spousal support in New Jersey. The determining factors are outlined in the New Jersey Statute Annotated, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:34-23(b).

How are the Factors Used?

When the Court has to make a determination about the factors, and whether or not alimony is appropriate or inappropriate, and the amount of alimony, they have to address all of those factors in writing and be very specific, including whether or not one factor is elevated above another in importance, e.g., the length of the marriage was more important than the age of the parties.

How Earning Capacity Pertains to Spousal Support Determinations

When determining whether or not spousal support is appropriate, the income of the parties is heavily taken into consideration. When going through a divorce, there can be actual income or imputed income. If the parties are working, there is actual income of the parties. If one party is not working, they would want to impute income to that party. It is not only if they are not working, but if they are voluntarily under-employed.

Income would be imputed based on the educational background of the person and what their income could have been or had been in the past. It is more difficult to calculate the longer the person has been out of work and the older the person gets because it is more difficult to enter the job market as someone gets older and has fewer skills or less relevant or contemporary skills. Earning capacity can be determined by the actual income of the party or by imputing an income to them.

How Education and Profession Can Factor into a Spousal Support Determination

Education and profession are also important elements of determining spousal support in New Jersey. It goes back into earning capacity, because if a person has a Doctorate in Biochemistry and is working at a minimum wage job, e.g., fast food job, if there are no other outside issues besides those factors, then they are voluntarily under-employed.

Since they have an earning capacity that is greater than what they are currently making, they could be held to a higher standard by the Court, because a Court does not want people to say they only make $2,000 a year when in all actuality they made $200,000 the year before.

The New Jersey Family Court is in the Chancery Division, which means it is a court of equity. Trying to be voluntarily under-employed will not help someone because the court will consider their education, their profession, their past income to determine what their earning capacity should be, even if they are not currently making that amount of money. To learn more about spousal support and spousal support determinations, speak with a knowledgeable alimony attorney that can help.