Increase in Income Following Separation Can Be Considered When Determining Alimony Payments

When a couple comes to an agreement to terminate their marriage, getting a court to make it official usually is not an issue. Resolving the associated aspects of divorce is where it can get complicated. If you are seeking a divorce in Hunterdon County, the family law attorneys at The Rotolo Law Firm can assist you.

Divorce is an emotionally trying process for all involved. Once a couple has come to terms that their relationship is over, they still must deal with the often heated issues related to the dissolution of their marriage — child custody and support, fair and equitable distribution of assets and, perhaps the most contentious of all, alimony.

Alimony is a payment of support from one spouse to another. In New Jersey married couples are responsible for supporting each other. This holds true even after the marriage ends. Alimony is designed to ensure that both spouses can enjoy a lifestyle reasonably similar to the one they had while married. (1)

A New Jersey statute gives courts a list of 13 factors they can consider when determining alimony awards, including need and the ability of one spouse to pay. (1) That ability is based on recorded earnings during the marriage and sometimes, as recently confirmed by an Ocean County Superior Court, immediately following separation.

On November 1 Superior Court Judge Lawrence Jones, in hearing Dudas v. Dudas, ruled that an increase in Mr. Dudas’ income, which occurred almost immediately following his separation from his wife, can be considered when deciding the amount of the alimony award. (2)

Mr. and Mrs. Dudas were married for 26 years during which time Mr. Dudas earned an estimated $40,000 annually. Soon after Mrs. Dudas filed for divorce in 2008 Mr. Dudas experienced a significant increase in salary, earning $64,000 in 2009; $76,000 in 2010; and an anticipated $68,000 for 2011. (2)

In considering this case, Judge Jones gave particular attention to 4 of the 13 factors: need and ability to pay; the lifestyle enjoyed by the couple during their marriage; earning potential of both spouses; and other evidence considered relevant. Two other factors Judge Jones considered were the cost and the “momentum” of the marriage. (3)

According to the Judge, specifics of this case showed that Mr. Dudas’ ability to succeed and increase his earning potential was made possible by the support received from Mrs. Dudas throughout their marriage. He further ruled that ignoring the increased earnings would make it impossible for either spouse to enjoy a lifestyle similar to what they had while together. (2)

The nuances of divorce are complicated and can vary case by case. If you or someone you know is going through a divorce in Hunterdon County, The Rotolo Law Firm divorce attorneys can help. The Rotolo Law Firm, in Lebanon, NJ, is on Route 22 close to the intersection of Route 22 and 78.



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