The two (2) basic types of support that are addressed in New Jersey divorces are child support and alimony. It’s possible a case will not have either, but at least one of the two is usually a consideration in a large majority of divorces. More than any other issue, I have found determinations of alimony and child support amount to be a primary reason for most divorce cases not settling. Before we go deeper into the issues, let’s take them one at a time at their most basic level.
New Jersey utilizes Child Support Guidelines. Accordingly, what is essentially a complex algorithm determines the amount of child support to be paid. While the child support output may be heavily monitored, the inputs can be manipulated to affect that outcome. For instance, there might be disagreement as to how much an unemployed husband or wife should be imputed for purposes of child support. Under 2A:34-23(a) provides that “in determining the amount to be paid by a part for support of the child and the period during which the duty of support is owed, the court in those cases not governed by court rule shall consider, but not be limited, to the following factors:
(1) Needs of the child;
(2) Standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent;
(3) All sources of income and assets of each parent;
(4) Earning ability of each parent, including educational background, training, employment skills…
(5) Need and capacity of the child for education, including higher education;
(6) Age and health of the child and each parent;
(7) Income, assets, and earning ability of the child;
(8) Responsibility of the parents for the court-ordered support of others;
(9) Reasonable debts and liabilities of each child and parent;
(10) Any other factors the court may deem relevant.
Somewhat similarly, under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b), the statute provides that: “In all actions brought for divorce, dissolution of civil union, divorce from bed and board….the court may award one or more of the following types of alimony: permanent alimony; rehabilitative alimony; limited duration alimony, or reimbursement alimony to either party. In so doing, the court shall consider, but not be limited to the following factors:
(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;
(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…
(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…
(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…
(13) Any other factors the court may deem relevant.
*When a share of a retirement benefit is treated as an asset for purposes of equitable distribution, the court shall not consider income generated thereafter by that share for purposes of determining alimony.
In a future blog post, I will discuss the factors and the application of alimony and child support in greater detail. In my experience, the factors often are not discussed as much as they perhaps should be in determining a proper alimony and child support outcome.
Your New Jersey Divorce Lawyer:
If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options. You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.