Long gone are the days when family courts would almost automatically award custody and support to women in divorce cases. The changing roles of men and women in the workforce and the marriage equality movement are now reflected in our laws regarding the family, blurring traditional gender roles and making it just as likely that men can be awarded alimony, depending on the specifics of the case.
New Jersey laws regarding marriage and divorce — or any other family law issue for that matter — are gender-neutral by design since any law favoring one gender over another is likely to be viewed by the courts as discriminatory. The alimony factors that the courts consider when making a determination about alimony are all gender-neutral:
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
- The duration of the marriage or civil union;
- The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
- 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, with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other;
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
- The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;
- The parental responsibilities for the children;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;
- 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;
- The nature, amount, and length of pendente lite support paid, if any.
The courts base alimony decisions on financial need as well as the ability of the other party to pay and the desire to see each spouse remains as close to the marital standard of living as possible. In today’s world, these factors apply equally to men and women.
When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of an experienced family law attorney often prove crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your family law matter. Contact us today for your free consultation.