Over the years, I have blogged several times on the Appellate Division rejecting a trial court’s use of a formula to calculate alimony as opposed to a fulsome consideration of

Continue Reading So Alimony Formulas are Sometimes OK?# Alimony Formula

# Appellate Division Rejects Formula for Alimony – Again!

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 the…

Continue Reading Appellate Division Rejects Formula for Alimony – Again!# Alimony Formulas: Yet Another Cautionary Tale

Over the years, I have blogged about alimony formulas, “rules of thumb” and similar ways that alimony is settled. I say settled, because in most instances, courts are not allowed…

Continue Reading Alimony Formulas: Yet Another Cautionary Tale

# More From the Appellate Division on Lifestyle, Formulas and the Concept of Income Equalization

A few weeks ago, I authored a post on this blog entitled Debunking the Myth That the Percentage Used in the So-Called “Alimony Rule of Thumb” Should Go Down as …

Continue Reading More From the Appellate Division on Lifestyle, Formulas and the Concept of Income Equalization

# 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

# Random Thoughts Regarding The Proposed Alimony Reform Statute

Yesterday, I blogged on the proposed alimony reform legislation in New Jersey. At the end of that post, I posited the following questions. Is this really a radical change, or in many respects, does it simply codify what is often done in practice anyway? Will it really take away advocacy when circumstances so require?

Aside from removing the term "permanent alimony" and perhaps sickening reaction in causes in some people, does the proposed legislation really do more than codify the case law or what was done in practice, in many respects. Remember, is "permanent alimony" really permanent now anyway? Can’t people seek to retire already and isn’t retirement a change of circumstances? Don’t people already negotiate, when appropriate, limited duration alimony when people are divorcing close to retirement age, as opposed to buying a second litigation to occur a few years later?

The following are some other random thoughts, in no particular order and of no particular importance.

1) Is "indefinite alimony" a nicer term for "permanent alimony"

2) While certainly possible and appropriate in many circumstances under existing law for marriages of less than 20 years, permanent alimony was infrequently given in marriages less than 20 years after the limited duration alimony statute was enacted. In fact, I heard someone on a panel at the State Bar Convention last year state that 20 years was sort of a magic number ensuring permanent alimony.

3) The concept of imputing income to someone that is unemployed or underemployed essentially already exists in the case law and child support guidelines, and thus, really is not new.Continue Reading Random Thoughts Regarding The Proposed Alimony Reform Statute

# 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

# TO INCLUDE OR EXCLUDE MANDATORY CONTRIBUTIONS IN DETERMINING INCOME – A BASE-LEVEL ANALYSIS

In determining a payor spouse’s gross income in analyzing an appropriate level of alimony or child support, one question that arises on occasion is whether to include so-called “mandatory” contributions to the total number. For instance, if the payor spouse is **required** by his employer to contribute $30,000 per year towards his 401(k), should such money be included in that spouse’s income in determining support? As to child support, the answer is a definitive “no.”

As to alimony, since such contributions are excluded from the child support equation and child support carries great weight as a matter of public policy – the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines posit that children should not be forced to live in poverty due to family disruption – it is only sensible and reasonable for such contributions to be similarly be excluded from the alimony calculation. Simply put, since the Guidelines consider any and all sources of income to aid children, the fact that mandatory contributions are excluded demonstrates that it would be even more unfair and unreasonable to include such contributions in calculating alimony.

The Guidelines provide a definition for “gross income” and, in so doing, expressly exclude mandatory contributions. Gross income is defined as “all earned and unearned income that is recurring or will increase the income available to the recipient over an extended period of time. When determining whether an income source should be included in the child support guidelines calculation, the court should consider if it would have been available to pay expenses related to the child if the family would have remained intact or would have formed and how long that source would have been available to pay those expenses.”Continue Reading TO INCLUDE OR EXCLUDE MANDATORY CONTRIBUTIONS IN DETERMINING INCOME – A BASE-LEVEL ANALYSIS