In the state of New Jersey, alimony is based upon 14 statutory factors. Specifically, a court 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.
While the number of factors to be considered by the Court may appear overwhelming at first, the Court is essentially attempting to consider whether an award of alimony would be equitable in any given case. As such, it is important to consider the ability to pay alimony along with the need for alimony. It is likewise important to consider the ages of the parties and the ability of each party to work and support him/herself. It is likewise important to note that gender is not a factor to be considered. Both men and women are able to pay or receive alimony, depending on the circumstances.
Alimony is not meant to be a punishment to the paying party or a windfall for the receiving party. The goal is to ensure that both parties are able to maintain a lifestyle comparable to the marital lifestyle, however, the reality of the situation is that this is often impossible. When this is the case, the Court makes every effort to structure alimony in the most equitable manner possible, based upon the facts and evidence presented. If you believe that you are entitled to alimony, it is advisable to consult an experienced family law attorney to ensure that the relevant facts are appropriately presented to the Court.