I have blogged many times about the fact that there is no formula for alimony, and moreover, whenever a trial court imposes a formula, it is always reversed by theContinue Reading Appellate Division Rejects Formula for Alimony – Again!
Debunking the Myth That Percentage Used in the So-Called “Alimony Rule of Thumb” Should Go Down as the Payer’s Income Goes Up
It has been said over and over again that there are no formula’s to determine alimony. As I have blogged in the past, other than one legal malpractice referencing …
Continue Reading Debunking the Myth That Percentage Used in the So-Called “Alimony Rule of Thumb” Should Go Down as the Payer’s Income Goes Up
GNALL V. GNALL – WHAT STARTED WITH A BANG ENDED WITH A WHIMPER
As noted yesterday, the long awaited decision in the Gnall case was released today. Previously, we have blogged about the Gnall v. Gnall case. In this case, the Appellate…
Continue Reading GNALL V. GNALL – WHAT STARTED WITH A BANG ENDED WITH A WHIMPER
WHAT DOES THE NEW ALIMONY LAW REALLY MEAN FOR THE DURATION OF YOUR PAYMENT?
Since Governor Christie signed into law the New Jersey alimony reform bill in September 2014, many divorced or divorcing spouses have asked what it means for the duration of the…
Continue Reading WHAT DOES THE NEW ALIMONY LAW REALLY MEAN FOR THE DURATION OF YOUR PAYMENT?
Alimony – Back to Basics
We have done dozens of posts on this blog about alimony over the last 5 years. Recent experiences have convinced me that it is time to get basics. Despite all of the cases that say that you can’t use a formula (the rule of thumb we have discussed previously on this blog), more and more, people are espousing a blind adherence to the rule of thumb. In one recent case with income of a few hundred thousand, an adversary told me that it was the maximum amount of alimony that I can get, despite the fact that it came no where close to meeting my client’s already pared down budget. In another case, where the income was a few million, one side was arguing that the rule of thumb was a minimum, as if there should be no consideration of any other factors.
Despite the calls for alimony reform and formulas, as we have said many times, courts deciding cases cannot use rules of thumb. Even when they do, they can’t tell you that they did. Rather, they have to review the alimony factors set forth in the statute – remember them? Here, they are again, from N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b):
(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, 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; and
(13) Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
Use of Formula to Determine Alimony Nixed Again
Alimony is supposed to be decided based upon the statutory factors, right? There really isn’t a formula to determine alimony, right? Even if there is this formula that is used…
Continue Reading Use of Formula to Determine Alimony Nixed Again
Alimony Fun Facts
This being a family law blog, we talk about alimony a lot. One reason is that, because there are no guidelines, only factors to consider, alimony is one of the more…
Appellate Court Approves the Use of "Rule of Thumb" Formula to Calculate Alimony – Sort Of
In August 2011, I posted an article on this blog entitled "Appellate Court Rejects ‘Rule of Thumb’ Formula to Calculate Alimony – Sort Of." In that article, I noted that there was a dirty little secret used by judges and lawyers in New Jersey to come up with a "ball park" as to what alimony should be. This "rule of thumb" does not take into account all of the statutory factors. Rather, the formula simply subtracts the lower income (real or imputed) from the and multiplies the difference by a percentage. I have been told that that percentage is 30% or one-third in the northern part of the state and 25% in the southern part.
More importantly, I noted that judges really cannot use this formula and must make findings considering the law and all of the statutory factors. This post was as a result of a case where the judge seemingly used the formula to determine alimony. The Appellate Division remanded the matter to the trial court to determine alimony using the alimony factors.
So much to my surprise, a new case came out yesterday emanating from a legal malpractice case filed by a litigant against her divorce attorney. Lo and behold, the Appellate Division notes that using this "rule of thumb is an appropriate way to calculate alimony. …
Continue Reading Appellate Court Approves the Use of "Rule of Thumb" Formula to Calculate Alimony – Sort Of
In a Long Term Marriage, Length of Marriage May Trump Age in the Alimony Calculus
Sandra C. Fava is a contributor to the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and a member of Fox Rothschild’s Family Law Practice Group in the Roseland, New Jersey office. Sandra exclusively practices family law throughout New Jersey. She is a former law clerk in the Morris County Superior Court, Family Part and has experience in all areas of family law and family law litigation. You can reach Sandra at (973) 994-7564, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continue Reading In a Long Term Marriage, Length of Marriage May Trump Age in the Alimony Calculus
The Impact of a Post Complaint Substantial Increase in Earnings – Marital Momentum or Much Ado About Nothing?
Does it matter if a party’s income increases between the cut off date (usually the date of Complaint) and the time of the divorce? What about the argument that this income does not reflect the marital lifestyle so it should be ignored? These questions were answered by Ocean County Family Part Judge Lawrence Jones, who, in his brief time on the bench, has become a prolific writer contributing a number of reported decisions.
Judge Jones addressed these issues in the reported case of Dudas v. Dudas released on November 1, 2011. While trial court opinions do not have to be followed by other trial courts or the Appellate Division, Judge Jones’ analysis of the issue was interesting.
In this case, the wife was primarily a stay at home parent. During the marriage, the husband’s income grew to the mid-$40,000 range, with a one year high of $59,000 by the end of the marriage. After the Complaint, the husband’s "… W-2 income … sharply jumped to a personal high of $64,000 in 2009, and then ballooned again to $76,000 in 2010. In 2011, defendant is on pace to earn $68,000."
Not surprisingly, the wife sought alimony based upon this higher income. The husband argued, "… that his post-complaint earnings are irrelevant because, (a) alimony should be based upon the parties’ marital standard of living, and (b) that standard of living was never based on the heightened level of earnings he presently enjoys." Judge Jones disagreed with the husband.…
Continue Reading The Impact of a Post Complaint Substantial Increase in Earnings – Marital Momentum or Much Ado About Nothing?