Common Alimony Questions

Divorce Financial Advisor

This is the third blog in the Divorce and Finances series, addressing common questions I hear as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) during the pre- and post-divorce process. This blog will address questions around alimony. A podcast version of this blog series can be found on our resource center here.

What is the purpose of alimony?

The basic purpose of alimony is the continuation of the standard of living enjoyed by both parties prior to their separation. Alimony is neither punishment for the payor nor reward for the payee, nor should it be a windfall for any party; it is a right arising out of the marriage relationship to continue to live according to the economic standard established during the marriage as far as economic circumstances will allow.

Will future increases in my earnings and portfolio income affect my alimony?

Possibly. This is typically based on facts and circumstances and how the overall negotiation process unfolds. Remember, alimony is only one of the financial variables and needs to be viewed in the context of property settlements and asset maintenance.

What must a person show in order to obtain a change in alimony?

A party seeking modification of an alimony award has the burden of demonstrating a change in circumstances warranting relief from support or maintenance obligations. An increase in either party’s income, whether from earned or unearned income, may call for an increase or decrease in an alimony obligation.

Can income from inherited assets be considered when fixing or modifying alimony?

To the extent that income is generated by a dependent spouse’s inheritance or by any other asset, that income may be crucial to the issue of that spouse’s ability to contribute to his or her own needs and his or her need for alimony; that is true whether the spouse chooses to actually receive income or whether, at his or her option, it is pushed back into the inheritance.

Will I need to pay alimony if I am the primary breadwinner?

Possibly. This is typically based on facts and circumstances and how the overall negotiation process unfolds. Remember, alimony is only one of the financial variables and needs to be viewed in the context of property settlements and asset maintenance.

Does gender impact the ability to get alimony?

Whether the spouse seeking maintenance pursuant to N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:34-23 is the husband or the wife, the factors to be considered remain the same and are unquestionably gender neutral.

What are the considerations for alimony?

A court must analyze the statutory factors under the statute before making an alimony award. The determination of an alimony award, of any kind, is a detailed analysis of the statutory factors, which are:

  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.

In each case where the court is asked to determine an award of alimony, the court shall consider and assess evidence with respect to all relevant statutory factors. The court will utilize the facts and conclusion of each case to determine if any of these factors should garner more importance than another.

Contact a divorce financial advisor at Round Table Wealth Management to assist in your pre- and post-divorce mediation.

For more relevant blogs on divorce finances, please check out the other articles in the series:

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By |2021-09-03T13:26:17+00:00May 20th, 2021|Blog|Comments Off on Common Alimony Questions

About the Author:

Mariella Foley is a Partner and Wealth Advisor with Round Table Wealth Management. Read Mariella's Biography >