Primary Factors Judges Consider for Alimony Payments

When seeking a New Jersey divorce, it’s important to consider if you or your spouse will be required to make alimony payments as part of the decree. It’s believed that more than 450,000 people in the U.S. make alimony payments every year. If you believe that you or your spouse will need to make alimony payments once the divorce is finalized, you might want to know how these payments are ordered.

Ability and Need to Pay

The first decision that the judge makes is about who will receive the alimony payments, which largely depends on which spouse earns less money. Once this decision has been made, the judge will then focus on how much money the spouse needs and if the other spouse is able to pay. There are many factors that can be taken into account at this stage of the process.

For instance, the judge will look at how the property is set to be divided between each spouse. The judge will also consider the standard of living that each spouse had during the marriage. The alimony payments will be centered around making sure that the other spouse can maintain their standard of living in the months following the divorce. The judge will also look at each spouse’s assets and income. Some additional factors that the judge may consider as it pertains to the ability and need to pay include:

  • Length of marriage
  • Needs of children
  • Spousal contributions
  • Age and health

Total Earning Capacity

Along with considering the total income that each spouse has, a judge will also examine the ability that each spouse has to earn money in the foreseeable future. This is designed to make sure that the alimony payments awarded to one spouse are actually needed. For instance, the spouse who is set to receive alimony payments could have the means to earn substantially more money than they currently are. If this individual has willfully chosen to earn less money and have a reduced standard of living, the other spouse shouldn’t need to make alimony payments.

Keep in mind that this consideration extends to any skills that you or your spouse might have. If you have the education and training necessary to be a dentist but have chosen to be a high-school teacher with a much lower annual salary, the judge can determine that you have the ability to earn more money, which means that you may not receive alimony payments. These payments could be based on a spouse’s earning power as opposed to their actual income.


Since New Jersey allows for both fault and no-fault divorces, it’s possible that proving marital fault could alter the judge’s decision on how alimony payments are ordered. In the event that the higher-earning spouse is said to be at fault for the entire divorce, alimony payments could be higher than anticipated.

Keep in mind, however, that a judge won’t order that the alimony payments be unreasonably high if the spouse is unable to afford these payments. In many cases, the spouse who will receive alimony payments gets less because they were at fault for the divorce. Even though fault-based divorces are still allowed in New Jersey, many divorcing couples seek no-fault divorces to ensure that the process is less stressful and can be completed in a more efficient manner.

Seeking Assistance From a New Jersey Family Law Attorney

If you are contemplating filing for a divorce, it’s highly recommended that you schedule a meeting with one of our New Jersey family law attorneys. We can help you learn more about your legal options during an initial consultation.

We’ll also explain every stage of the divorce process as it occurs, which should give you a good understanding of what’s going on. Keep in mind that our lawyers are able to work on all types of divorce cases, which include no-fault and fault filings. If your divorce proceedings are set to occur through mediation, we can act as your legal representative while this process is ongoing. Call us now to discuss your case in more detail.

If you have questions about alimony payments or require representation for your divorce, call us today at (856) 489-6200 or submit a contact form that can be found on our website.