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

Receiving New Jersey Alimony

Divorce can be difficult and complicated. The proceedings are often emotionally fraught,  leaving little energy to consider the logistics of your separation. That is where an alimony attorney can help. If you are in the midst of a divorce and you want to know more about receiving New Jersey alimony, consult a qualified alimony attorney that can work towards a positive outcome for you.

How Long Does It Take to Determine Alimony?

The amount of time it takes to determine alimony actually depends on the litigant, the attorneys, and the judge. If it is the only issue outstanding in a divorce proceeding, a judge would schedule the matter for trial. At that juncture, if the parties have not figured out whether or not one of the parties receiving New Jersey alimony is appropriate and if so, at what amount and at what length. The judge could schedule the matter for trial and the parties can stipulate that these other issues of the marital dissolution, such as the equitable distribution of property, are already agreed to, or the whole matter will proceed to trial.

Approximately 98% of divorces in New Jersey end in a settlement or a Consent Order between the parties and the normal course of a divorce is less than a year. If a divorce goes on for longer than a year from the date that the matter was filed, then it is put on a trial list by the administrative office of the courts and the Judge gets pressure from the Assignment Judge to end it. There are so many cases on the court docket that they have determined that one year is the appropriate amount of time. Once they get past that one-year mark, they start putting pressure on the parties to either settle or schedule a trial.

Receiving Support Before the End of the Divorce Trial

Receiving New Jersey alimony before the court proceeding is over is actually very common. The term pendente lite support means that during the course of the divorce proceeding, support can be ordered by a Judge or agreed to by the parties. This is not agreed to if it is a contentious divorce, but if a party brings forward a motion requesting support to be continued to pay the expenses that had been marital expenses, but now are going to be separate expenses, a judge can order the breadwinner spouse to continue to pay for the caregiving spouse's shelter expenses, transportation expenses, personal expenses. This would be a pendente lite support award.

Only in rare circumstances can a person be barred from receiving alimony in New Jersey, but a person can waive their rights to a spousal support award when they are negotiating an agreement between the parties.

Why Would Someone Waive Alimony?

Someone might agree to waive the alimony award if they have similar incomes if that is a bargaining chip for exchange somewhere else in the agreement. When someone comes up with a marital settlement agreement (as 98% of divorces do), they are outlining how everything in the marriage is going to be divided, including real property (such as their home), personal property, and other assets.

In the process of preparing an agreement, one party may give a little more here to get some leeway there. Most negotiations occur with regards to the distribution of property.When individuals waive their right to alimony, they are saying that they are not going to seek alimony from the other party in the future, even if that person wins the lottery. It is a negotiation tactic and if a judge is not inclined to award alimony, it is typically commonplace for individuals to waive their right to alimony.

Provisions to Ensure a Fair Assessment of a Person’s Financial Situation to Determine Spousal Award

The judge will look at the earning capacity, the education and professional background of the individuals and will impute income to an individual who is clearly trying to create a divorce plan to prevent an alimony award, or make sure that the monetary support that they need to provide either for the spouse or the children are not negated because of this person's plan to work at a fast food restaurant when they have a higher educational degree. A judge’s goal is to assure that whomever is receiving New Jersey spousal support actually needs it.

What Happens to Alimony Payments If the Payor is Deceased?

There is actually a statute that says that alimony terminates upon the death of the payor spouse; the estate is not required to pay for the continued maintenance or the continued support. However, if there are arrears (the paying spouse failed to pay for a period of time) that can be legally proven, e.g., paid through the Probation Department, the estate will need to settle that arrears balance.

If the receiving spouse dies, then the paying spouse no longer needs to pay. If the paying spouse dies, their estate will need to settle any arrears; otherwise, there is no continued need to make spousal support payments.

How an Alimony Attorney Can Help

An attorney does not necessarily work with the couple unless they are the mediator. If an attorney is looking out for a client, they can only represent one side of the divorce. They would be able to work with their client to ensure that an alimony determination is properly assessed by the court to make an argument whether or not they are the paying spouse or the receiving spouse.

The big factor that is most argued about tends to be the income and whether or not the parties are under-employed or should be imputed at a higher income; that is where the most contention lies.

A New Jersey Family Law Attorney can work to ensure that all the arguments are made if someone is either getting credit for the other spouse, having a higher income, or that the income amount should be lower because of either the educational background factors, whether or not the person is the caregiving spouse, et cetera. If an individual is concerned about receiving New Jersey alimony, they should consult a skilled New Jersey alimony attorney today.