Alimony is a sum of money that is paid from one spouse to the other as financial support after a divorce or dissolution of a civil union. It is also sometimes referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance. New Jersey’s statute on alimony was substantially amended in 2014.
In a divorce situation, Alimony payments (unlike child support) are tax-deductible to the payor and includable as taxable income to the recipient. In a dissolution of a Civil Union, alimony is not taxable for federal purposes due to the fact that Civil Unions are not recognized as marriage by the federal government. Therefore, in negotiating a Civil Union dissolution agreement, or in bringing the issue to trial, there must be contemplation of the fact that alimony in those situations is not deductible or includable on Federal tax returns and adjustments made accordingly.
Alimony is based upon NJSA 2A:34-23 and can be various types including limited duration, rehabilitative, reimbursement and open durational. The Court considers (among other things): the needs of each party and their ability to pay; the age of the parties, custody arrangements for the children; the length of the legal relationship; the financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage; responsibilities and roles of each spouse; the physical and emotional health of each spouse; the established, accustomed standard of living and the spouses’ ability to maintain it; the spouses’ present and future earning capacity if employed; tax issues; and equitable distribution.
The Court may also order Pendente Lite Support (meaning support during the period of time when a divorce/dissolution is pending but not yet finalized. That can either be allocated as separate amounts of alimony and child support, if applicable, or “unallocated support” which would be one sum of non-taxable monies or payments on behalf of a spouse or child(ren).
The standard for Pendente Lite support is different than that of alimony because, generally, the Court’s goal in setting Pendente Lite financial obligations is to try to keep the parties as close to the marital status quo as is possible given the new set of circumstances until a final judgment is entered with a long-term support arrangement based upon full analysis of the finances and circumstances.