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When one divorcing spouse makes more than the other

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2023 | Divorce

Divorce negotiations can often become contentious, especially when the matter being discussed is alimony and one of the spouses earns significantly more than the other. There was a time when mostly the husband earned more in these situations, but much has changed in recent years. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 30% of married women now earn more than their husbands.

Spousal support

Family law judges follow a strict formula when they are called upon to calculate child support payments, but they have little guidance when making spousal support decisions. Instead, they consider factors including the length of the marriage, the contributions made by each spouse during the marriage, the spouses’ incomes and future earning potential, and the lifestyle the couple enjoyed while they were married. In a high-asset divorce, the amount of alimony awarded can be significant.

New Jersey alimony law revised

The alimony rules in New Jersey were revised when Governor Chris Christie signed the Alimony Reform Bill into law in 2014. The length of time that alimony must be paid can no longer exceed the length of the marriage unless the marriage lasted for longer than 20 years, and paying spouses can petition the court to end alimony when the receiving spouse is involved in a romantic relationship even if they are not living with their new partners.

Avoiding court

Family law judges only hear arguments about alimony when divorcing spouses are unable to reach an agreement at the negotiating table. Judges consider many factors when determining the appropriate amount of spousal support, but that does not mean divorcing spouses are always happy with their decisions. When discussion becomes unproductive and an amicable resolution seems unlikely, spouses may be able to avoid court by exploring alternative dispute resolution approaches like mediation or collaborative divorce.