Kent Law Group, LLC New Jersey Family Law - (609) 309-7071

Kent Law Group, LLC
100 Horizon Center Blvd, 1st Floor
Hamilton, NJ 08691

T: (609) 309-7071
F: (609) 309-7072

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Kent Law Group, LLC serves the entire state of New Jersey with satelitte offices at the following locations


PRINCETON
116 Village Blvd, Suite 200
Princeton, NJ 08540

EAST BRUNSWICK
197 State Route 18 South, Suite 3000, South Wing
East Brunswick, NJ 08816

BRIDGEWATER
1200 Route 22 East, Suite 200
Bridgewater, NJ 08807

CHERRY HILL
923 Haddonfield Rd, Suite 300
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

Divorce & Alimony

The idea of going through a long and complicated legal process can often seem overwhelming. There are many important issues, which must be resolved. We will represent you throughout the entire divorce process. We will advise you with respect to legal grounds for divorce, residency requirements and required waiting periods, as well as in the filing of the divorce petition.

We will represent you through all negotiations and work toward crafting a divorce settlement that meets your individual needs. When out-of-court divorce settlement cannot be reached, we have the skill and resources to prepare your case and effectively represent you in court.

The Kent Law Group values the communication that we maintain with our clients. We will advise and consult with you before any decisions are made, answer all of your questions and address all of your concerns. We will keep you informed at all stages of the legal process.

Here are some of the most common questions we get regarding divorce in New Jersey

What are the grounds for divorce in New Jersey?

While just about everyone has heard of “irreconcilable differences,” a grounds for divorce used by regular litigants and celebrities alike, in New Jersey you can actually file for divorce using several  different grounds – two considered “no fault” and the remaining ones considered “fault” grounds. These include: (1) irreconcilable differences, where the party filing for divorce must establish that the marriage has been broken for six months and there is no prospect for reconciliation; (2) living separate and apart for eighteen months with no prospect of reconciliation; (3) adultery; (4) extreme cruelty; (5) desertion; (6) drug addiction; (7) institutionalization; (8) imprisonment; (9) habitual drunkenness; and (10) deviant sexual conduct. Proving one of these constitutes sufficient grounds for a divorce in New Jersey.

Can my spouse and I hire the same lawyer to represent us?

In the state of New Jersey, you and your spouse CANNOT hire the same attorney unless the two of you hire an attorney for a mediation. Or, for example, the two of you can decide, for financial reasons, that you want to split the cost of the attorney to prepare an agreement (for example, a Custody Agreement) for the two of you – but the attorney could still only legally represent ONE of you in the transaction and the other would need to obtain their own attorney (assuming they chose to have their own attorney). Think about it – are the interests of two divorcing people always the same? No. Therefore, it’s always wise to be cautious and have someone on your side who represents your interests.

Do I need a lawyer to obtain a divorce?

NO – but in many instances, particularly where custody and parenting issues are in dispute, or when the parties have assets they want to protect, it is helpful to have an attorney who knows the law. For most people, there’s simply too much at stake to risk a “do it yourself” approach.

What is equitable distribution?

In New Jersey, marital property is distributed via an ‘equitable distribution’ method, which means assets are not necessarily split “down the middle.” Equitable distribution is the division of marital property between parties and takes into consideration the financial resources of each spouse, the assets each brought into the marriage and whether their contributions led to the increase in value of certain assets, the standard of living achieved during the marriage, marital debts and liabilities, the earning potential of each spouse, tax consequences to each spouse, the value of marital property, and any written agreement made between the spouses.

What property is not subject to equitable distribution?

Typically, assets acquired before the marriage are not subject to equitable distribution unless a non-owner spouse can show that they provided a significant benefit to the growth in value of that asset.  Also, property acquired by inheritance is not subject to equitable distribution. To avoid running into trouble down the road, it is best to try to avoid “commingling” – meaning mixing or lumping together in one place – premarital and marital assets.

Here are some of the most common questions we get regarding alimony in New Jersey

What are the different kinds of alimony?

New Jersey has four different kinds of alimony- limited duration, rehabilitative, reimbursement, and permanent. The most common form of alimony is term or limited duration alimony, which is payable for a specific period of time. Rehabilitative alimony, as the name implies, is meant to “rehabilitate” the supporting spouse – allowing him or her to obtain the training/education they may need in order to obtain employment. It too is awarded for a finite period of time. Reimbursement alimony essentially pays a spouse back for sacrifices they may have made during the duration of the marriage to allow the other spouse to increase his or her earning capacity; the classic example is a spouse who supports their husband or wife while they attend law, medical or some other form of graduate school. Finally, there’s permanent alimony, which is relatively unusual but is, well, permanent for the life of the payor. Alimony is considered income; therefore, alimony reduces the Supporting spouse’s taxable income and increases the supported spouse’s taxable income. Additionally, by raising the supported spouse’s income it may lead to a reduction in the child support the supported spouse is entitled to.

What factors does the court consider when deciding whether to award alimony?

The alimony statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b) states advises considering the following factors when determining whether to award alimony:

  1. The actual need and ability of the parties to pay.
  2. The duration of the marriage.
  3. The age, physical and emotional health of the parties.
  4. The standard of living established during the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonable comparable standard of living.
  5. The parties' earning capability, education and employability.
  6. The length of absence from the job market.
  7. Parental responsibilities for the children.
  8. The time and expense needed to acquire education or training to enable a dependent spouse to obtain appropriate employment.
  9. The financial and non-financial contributions of each spouse to the marriage.
  10. Equitable distribution of assets.
  11. Income available and non-financial contributions of each spouse to the marriage.
  12. The tax consequences of alimony.
  13. 13.   Any other factor which the court deems relevant.

Can a spouse file a motion for a decrease in alimony?

If a Supporting spouse's income decreases, s/he can file a motion to ask the court to decrease or terminate the alimony obligation. The Supporting spouse must then demonstrate that the decrease in income was bona fide and not a result of an intent to circumvent the alimony obligation. Meaning, if a cardiothoracic surgeon decided to simply stop working because he didn’t feel like paying his ex-wife alimony, the amount he owed likely wouldn’t change because a court can decide that he CAN earn as much as before and was simply CHOOSING not to. In that case, income would be “imputed” to the cardiothoracic surgeon.

Can a spouse file a motion for an increase in alimony?

Yes but in this instance the party seeking to have alimony increased bears the burden of proof to demonstrate that a change of circumstance warrants an increase. For example, if a spouse became sick and couldn’t work that may justify an increase in alimony. Stating that your ex got a new job that pays more than the old one does not constitute a change of circumstances.

Can alimony be terminated if the Supported spouse cohabitates with someone else?

Maybe. Living with someone else does not automatically terminate or even reduce alimony – but it can trigger an evaluation of whether the parties have a “change in circumstances” sufficient to reevaluate the terms of alimony. Courts use the economic contribution test to determine whether an alimony award to a dependent spouse should be reduced; they consider, among other things, whether the cohabitation reduces the supported spouse’s financial needs. The supporting spouse – the spouse bringing the motion to reduce or terminate alimony – has the burden of proving that there is cohabitation, and court will typically permit the parties to conduct limited “discovery” – in which the parties exchange evidence meant to support their position.

While it’s difficult to plan for marriage by considering the possibility of divorce, it’s very wise to do so particularly when it pertains to alimony. That’s why this issue is often addressed in prenuptial agreements. Many property settlement agreements also address alimony, and alimony termination if the supported spouse cohabitates with or marries someone else.

Can I file for alimony before I am divorced?

Yes. You can file to receive alimony during the pendency of a divorce proceeding. Once the divorce is finalized, the final alimony supersedes the alimony obligation imposed during the pendency of the divorce.

 
To schedule a free phone consultation, please call our office at 609-309-7071 or email okent@oliviakentlaw.com