Guiding Clients Through Alimony And Property Division Matters
Financial circumstances in and following divorce can change significantly. Marital property, which is subject to equitable distribution, includes property that was acquired from the date of marriage until the date of the filing of the complaint for divorce. Marital property may include the following:
- Real estate holdings
- Business assets
- Savings and bank accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Other investments and property
In New Jersey, marital property is jointly owned and divided equitably most often 50-50, but not always. Each spouse will usually receive roughly half of marital assets or the appraised value of assets unless it is more equitable to give one spouse more than a 50% share, depending on the marital financial circumstances.
The Complexities Of Alimony Payments and Child Support
Alimony is not determined by a formula, as child support is. It is calculated in cases where alimony is appropriate such as in a long-term marriage. What constitutes “long-term marriage” can be negotiated or determined by the court, but it is usually 10 years or more.
In a medium-length marriage, one outcome can be a limited duration alimony pay out, depending on the circumstances. Several factors are generally used to determine alimony payments, including:
- Work history
- Contributions by one spouse to the other’s education
- Contributions to the home and to children
- Earning capacity
- Special needs
Among other things, divorce cases for long term marriages will be concerned with maintaining a lifestyle reasonably comparable (although necessarily somewhat lower) to that which was enjoyed during the marriage, and to provide for your children in the most effective way possible. Child support will reflect the amount of alimony (if any) that will be awarded, since alimony is income to the receiving spouse. Since child support is based on each parent’s income, it is necessary to know what the alimony payments (if any) will be.
Alimony is not awarded long term, if at all, when there is a short-term marriage. What constitutes a long-term marriage may be subject to negotiations, mediation or a court proceeding. Alimony is negotiable, but child support is not usually, except in special circumstances (e.g. when both parties are high wage-earners). Sometimes, depending on the circumstances, a lower-earning spouse may receive short term durational alimony (for a set term of years) or rehabilitative alimony (e.g. to help a dependent spouse get back on their feet after a divorce, such as to finish an educational program, etc.).
At the Law Offices of Jonathan D. Gordon, Esq., LLC, we will work with you to identify marital assets and to make sure you receive your equitable or half share. We work to get you the best possible outcome under the circumstances to ensure that alimony (spousal support) is fair and reasonable. We will attempt to achieve resolution through cooperative mediation or negotiation first.
Bergen County Equitable Distribution Attorneys
Several factors help us determine the equitable distribution of property belonging to a marital estate. Division of marital property is a complicated process, and at times, forensic accountants and appraisers might be necessary to accurately evaluate and account for all assets. You can be sure that our law firm will perform due diligence obtaining the appraised value of all assets that need to be appraised (e.g. art collections, coins, furs, jewelry, etc.). In a collaborative process between spouses, it also makes sense to take into account emotional ties and practical uses of property such as family heirlooms and the home.
The court will not want to have to divide your dishes and silverware. It is better if you can come to an agreement and keep it out of court if possible.
When there are no disputes over children or children’s issues have been resolved, people often turn to property. Negotiations and mediation are advantageous, but some cases call for litigation. We are prepared to vigorously advocate for and defend your case in any situation.
Teaneck Prenuptial Attorney
We also assist people with prenuptial agreements. Often, those contemplating a second marriage who enter the new marriage with assets and children from an earlier relationship, will want to protect their previously obtained assets in the event of another, future divorce. It is important to obtain your prenup as much in advance of your planned wedding as possible. Drafting a prenup a week or so prior to a wedding is often vulnerable to a later claim of duress. It is much better to have time to carefully draft such an agreement, disclose all assets with particularity and to maximize the probability that the agreement will hold up in court in the future, if there is a divorce. In many cases, depending on the detail upon which the prenup is drafted, it will minimize the amount of work that would be otherwise necessary in a subsequent divorce. Don’t wait until the last minute to get this done, for your own protection and for the benefit of your heirs.