Alimony is a hot topic in many divorces. We often hear “I want alimony for as much and as long as I can get it” or the converse, “No matter what else, I do not want to have to pay alimony”. What is alimony and how it is determined?
Contrary to common belief, alimony has nothing to do with fault. It is not intended to be punitive in nature against the payor; a person is not required to pay alimony because they are “bad.” Likewise, a person does not get to receive alimony because they are “good.” Also contrary to common belief, there is no set mathematical formula for calculating alimony. We often hear “men have to pay lots in alimony” or “New Jersey is hard on men when it comes to alimony” or “I heard that I can get 33% of my spouse’s income as alimony.” None of this is accurate. Women can be just as easily be obligated to pay alimony as men. Alimony is not based upon the gender of the payor and one gender is not as a matter of course required to pay more alimony than the other. Nor is alimony based on a percentage.
Alimony is intended to assist the supported spouse in achieving a lifestyle that is reasonably comparable to the one enjoyed while living with the supporting spouse during the marriage. This is why the marital lifestyle is so important. The lifestyle helps to determine the initial alimony award and for determining applications for modification of the alimony award when “changed circumstances” are asserted.
Alimony is based on 12 identified factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 and a 13th “catch all” provision for any other information the Court deems relevant. Those factors include the actual need of the spouse seeking support, the ability to pay of the supporting spouse, the length of the marriage, the parties’ ages, educations, work histories, earnings, parental responsibilities, the length of the marriage, their marital lifestyle and a number of other factors. Each factor requires its own analysis and case law interpreting these factors is plentiful.
No two alimony cases are alike just as no two marriages are alike. Although there may be similarities, each case is unique and each alimony analysis will also be unique. Just because someone you may know got one alimony award does not mean yours may be anything like it.
If you have any questions about alimony, contact Adinolfi & Packman for professional, trusted, experienced New Jersey family law lawyers who can assess your alimony case. Our offices are conveniently located in Haddonfield, New Jersey to serve all of South Jersey, including the communities of Camden County, Burlington County, Salem County and Gloucester County such as Cherry Hill, Haddon Heights, Voorhees, Medford, Mt. Laurel, Moorestown and Berlin. Call us today at 856-428-8334 or contact us online.
Julie R. Freeman-Burick is an Associate at the New Jersey family law firm of Adinolfi & Packman, P.A. Prior to joining the firm, she worked with the South Jersey Legal Services, Inc. in their Cumberland, Salem and Gloucester County offices between 2002 and 2011.