How Is Mental Health Related to Alimony and Property Distribution in a Divorce Case?

In a New Jersey divorce, the mental health of each party is relevant in a number of different ways. For example, a party’s mental health can impact whether there is an alimony award in a divorce case. Mental health also may be a factor in property distribution that occurs during a New Jersey divorce.

Whether a court will order a spouse to pay alimony to the other spouse, as well as the amount and duration of any alimony award, depends on a number of different factors set forth under New Jersey law. According to N.J. Stat. 2A:34-23(b)(3), one of the criteria that the court must consider in ordering alimony includes “the age, physical and emotional health of the parties.” This means that if a spouse is emotionally or mentally incapacitated to the extent that he or she cannot work, then the court may decide that the spouse must receive alimony in order to support himself or herself. On the other hand, if the spouse is mentally incapacitated, he or she also may not be ordered to pay alimony to the other spouse, simply because he or she is unable to work or earn a sufficient income in order to do so. The mental incapacity of a spouse also may constitute exceptional circumstances that justify an adjustment of the duration of support. N.J. Stat. 2A:34-23(c)(3).

In a New Jersey divorce, the parties are entitled to an equitable division of their assets. Keep in mind that “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal.” In other words, a court may find that based on the parties’ circumstances, one spouse should receive more than half of the marital property. For instance, a court can consider the parties’ physical and emotional health in making a property distribution. N.J. Stat. 2A:34-23.1. The court could award more of the assets to a mentally ill spouse if the assets are necessary to providing for that spouse’s basic needs.

Mental health issues are never easy, and when combined with the stress of a divorce case, you quickly can feel overwhelmed. During times like these, it is hard to make the decisions that are truly best for you and your family, particularly when it comes to emotionally-charged issues like mental health and divorce. It is in these kinds of cases that a New Jersey family lawyer can be most useful to you and truly make a difference in the outcome of your case. Visit our website at http://argentinolaw.com. You also can email us at info@argentinolaw.com, and one of our staff members will get back to you right away.

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