Robert A. Gleaner, P.C

Frequently Asked Family Law Questions

Q. How is alimony calculated?

     Alimony, as opposed to child support, is not as definitive and is based on a number of factors including the actual need of the party, the ability of the other party to pay, the duration of the marriage, the age, physical and emotional health of the parties, the standard of living established in the marriage, the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonable comparable standard of living, as well as a number of other factors. The alimony statute in New Jersey was recently amended so that the court is now permitted to award not only permanent or rehabilitative alimony but also limited duration alimony and reimbursement alimony. There are no fixed "guidelines" as there are with regard to child support.

Q. Are payments for child care, medical care and other similar costs included as a part of child support?

     The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, as they now exist, take into consideration the general basic cost of a household which are (1) "fixed" shelter costs, such a mortgage/rent, utilities; (2) certain "variable" expenses, such as food and transportation; and (3) certain "controlled" expenses that would include clothing, personal care, entertainment and other personal items. However, additional amounts would be payable, such as unreimbursed medical expenses and child care. This would be above and beyond the basic child support award. Additionally, the Court has discretion to order other costs above and beyond the basic child support guideline figure, which may include private school, post-secondary school, special education and any number of other expenses that were not contemplated by the child support guidelines, if a Court is convinced that the expense is reasonable.

Q. How long must I pay or can I receive child support?

     Child support concludes upon the emancipation of the child or children. What this actually means is that child support discontinues when the child is expected to be self supporting. There is no fixed time for emancipation, however. The issue is a question of fact. In general, however, emancipation may occur upon a child reaching majority, upon the child's graduation from secondary education, upon the child's entry into the armed forces, upon the child's marriage, upon the child's graduation from post secondary or even graduate school or at any other time that the Court believes the child is expected to be self-supporting.

Q. How will the marital property be distributed?

     All property acquired by the parties during their marriage is subject to "equitable distribution." The purpose of equitable distribution is to achieve a fair distribution of what the parties acquired during their marriage. "Equitable" does not necessarily mean that the property will be divided one-half to each of the parties. The theory is based upon marriage as a partnership so that even if one party (usually the husband) technically acquired all of the assets through earned income, while the wife was at home and not working outside the home, the Court would still recognize that the marriage was, in fact, a partnership and but for the fact that the wife was at home keeping the household for the family, he would not have had the opportunity to earn the income for this marital partnership. Thus, the identity of the person who actually earned the money is immaterial and unless the parties can agree, the Court would distribute all property in a manner that it deems "equitable."