Spousal support: It’s not just for women

Too many people make the mistake of thinking they are or are not going to be eligible for certain types of financial support in the wake of a separation or divorce based on their gender.

However, every case is different and these matters are decided based on many factors that have nothing to do with whether you are a man or a woman in New Jersey. If you are going through a separation or divorce, you could be making a costly mistake by assuming that only a woman can receive alimony and only a man will have to pay.

In determining whether or not alimony shall be awarded, for how long, and in what amount, attorneys, litigants, and the courts must consider the following:

  1. The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
  2. The duration of the marriage or civil union;
  3. The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
  4. The standard of living established in the marriage or civil union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living, with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other;
  5. The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
  6. The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;
  7. The parental responsibilities for the children;
  8. The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
  9. The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage or civil union by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;
  10. 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;
  11. The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;
  12. 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;
  13. The nature, amount, and length of pendente lite support paid, if any; and
  14. Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.

You should note that gender is not included in this list. Gone are the days where men were assumed to be the breadwinner while women stayed home with the children. Today, the decision to award alimony is based on more relevant factors that dictate whether one person will be at a significant financial disadvantage in maintaining the standard of living following a separation or divorce. It is also important to note, under the recently modified alimony statute, the Court is not to assign more weight to one of the above referenced factors over the others. This further “levels the playing field” between the parties, regardless of the gender of the spouse requesting financial support.

Because of this, it is important to speak with an attorney about the specifics of your situation before jumping to conclusions. Making assumptions could mean missing out on critical financial support or being unprepared to challenge such requests. If you have questions or concerns regarding the receipt or payment of alimony, or want to better understand how the new statute may impact your rights or obligations, the attorneys at Jacobs Berger, LLC, are prepared to assist you, please call to schedule an in-depth consultation today.  

About the Author:

Sarah Jacobs is dedicated to protecting the interests of clients in family law proceedings. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and Qualified as a Mediator, Sarah possesses nearly 20 years of experience practicing law throughout the State of New Jersey. Together with partner Jamie N. Berger, Esq. their boutique Morristown family law firm is managed with the goal of providing high-quality service tailored to each client's individual needs. In her capacity as both a family law mediator and litigator, Sarah works with negotiation-minded clients in a cooperative setting. She is also a skilled litigator with the knowledge needed to take even the most complex cases to court, if necessary.

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