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What’s the Difference Between Alimony vs. Spousal Support in New Jersey?

What’s the Difference Between Alimony vs. Spousal Support in New Jersey?

Alimony is financial support paid from one spouse to another spouse during and after a divorce. Spousal support is another name for alimony. New Jersey alimony laws provide for several forms of spousal support. 

Why Switch Terms From Alimony to Spousal Support in New Jersey?

Many states use the term “spousal support” to describe alimony payments. A common reason is that spousal support is a gender-neutral term. 

Alimony is often associated with a man’s payments to his ex-wife after a divorce. However, women’s incomes have substantially increased in recent decades. As a result, women now pay alimony payments in many divorce cases. 

Therefore, many states have changed the term to reflect the change in attitudes toward divorce. Spousal support has fewer negative undertones and is considered less confrontational, which supports the shift from fault-based divorces to no-fault divorces.

However, the use of the term alimony remains more prevalent in most areas of New Jersey. The changes in spousal support laws in 2014 are referred to as the New Jersey Alimony Bill (Bill A845). The new alimony law included five significant changes to New Jersey alimony laws, including the length of alimony payments.

Six Things You Need To Know About Alimony in New Jersey

If you are going through a divorce or have a spousal support order, Monmouth County alimony facts to know include:

Alimony Payments Are Not Based on Gender

Judges consider many factors when deciding whether to grant alimony and the amount of the payments for spousal support in Monmouth County. However, a spouse’s gender is not one of those factors. Therefore, alimony is based on financial concerns instead of the sex of the person paying or receiving spousal support.

Cohabitation Can End Alimony Payments 

If a person cohabitates with another person, it can end spousal support payments. Cohabitation can mean living with someone or engaging in a long-term, intimate, marital-like relationship with a person. 

The aforementioned changes in alimony law provide that the payer does not have to prove an ex-spouse is living in a new person’s home to terminate spousal support. Instead, the argument for ending alimony for cohabitation is more about the relationship than the physical address of the ex-spouse.

A judge considers factors such as:

  • Whether the ex-spouse and the other person have joint finances
  • The recognition of the relationship by family members, friends, and other people
  • Sharing household chores and responsibilities
  • The duration of the relationship
  • Whether the new partner promised to support the ex-spouse receiving alimony payments
  • Other relevant factors and evidence

Judges cannot reject a motion to terminate spousal support for reasons of cohabitation based solely on the grounds that the couple does not reside in the same house full-time. If you believe your ex-spouse is in a relationship that should terminate alimony payments, call a Monmouth County alimony attorney for help.

New Jersey Does Not Allow Permanent Alimony in Most Situations 

Alimony reform eliminated permanent alimony in most cases. If your marriage lasted less than 20 years, the spousal support payments cannot exceed the duration of the marriage. However, judges can order alimony for longer periods if “exceptional circumstances” justify the award.

Examples of exceptional circumstances include, but are not limited to:

  • The ages of the spouses when they got married and at the time of the alimony award;
  • There are unusual health circumstances or a spouse has a chronic illness;
  • Tax considerations for either spouse;
  • If a spouse received a disproportionate share of the marital property; 
  • If a spouse gave up a career or job opportunities to support the career of the other spouse;
  • How long and to what degree a spouse depended on the other spouse for support; and,
  • The impact of the marriage on a spouse’s ability to support themselves, including if a spouse is the primary caretaker of a child.

Alimony payments may be terminated or modified when the paying spouse reaches full retirement age. The changes in alimony laws were not retroactive. Therefore, you could still receive permanent alimony payments if you were divorced before the law went into effect. 

Factors Used To Determine the Amount of Alimony Payments 

The courts consider numerous factors when deciding whether to grant spousal support and the amount of spousal support payments. Factors include:

  • The need and ability to pay alimony payments
  • The income and resources of each spouse
  • The physical and emotional health of the parties
  • The ages of each spouse
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The parental responsibilities for each party
  • The quality of life established by the couple during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s education level, earning capacity, employability, and vocational skills 
  • The equitable distribution of marital assets
  • The cost and duration of education and/or job training required for a spouse to become self-supporting
  • Each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage and household

Judges may consider other relevant factors when deciding alimony cases in Monmouth County. There is no set formula for calculating spousal support payments. Instead, the judges consider the relevant factors in determining the amount of alimony awarded.

You Can Deduct Alimony Payments from State Taxes

Before 2019, parties could deduct alimony paid on their federal tax returns. However, a change in the IRS code eliminated alimony deductions for federal taxes.

However, New Jersey continues to allow tax deductions from state income taxes. Therefore, if you pay court-ordered alimony, you can deduct the court-ordered alimony payments from your gross income on your New Jersey state income tax returns.

You Can Petition To Modify Spousal Support Payments 

There are several reasons why spousal support payments can be modified. Reasons to petition for a post-judgment modification of alimony payments in Monmouth County include:

  • The payer reaches full retirement age
  • The payer is involuntarily unemployed for at least 90 days
  • The payer has a substantial reduction in income for at least 90 days
  • A party develops a serious health issue or chronic illness

The change must be a “substantial change” in circumstances to justify modifying alimony payments. The court reviews the income for both parties and the receiving party’s financial circumstances. 

A Family Lawyer in New Jersey Can Make All the Difference for Your Case

If you need help with a family-law-related issue – including those related to spousal support – in Monmouth County, New Jersey, it’s likely worth your time to reach out to an experienced attorney. Your lawyer can ensure your rights and interests and protected throughout the process. They can also explain your best legal course of action as your case unfolds. Most attorneys in this area of the law offer free consultations to review your case as well.

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm in Red Bank. NJ at (732) 747-1882 or contact us online today.
You can also visit our law firm at 157 Broad St #111, Red Bank, NJ 07701.

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