Bastarrika, Soto, Gonzalez & Somohano, L.L.P.

How abuse is factored into alimony awards

Marriages end for a variety of different reasons.  Many couples in New Jersey who choose to pursue a divorce will often take the route of seeking a no-fault divorce in which parties claim an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and irreconcilable differences. However, under certain circumstances, a fault divorce may be appropriate in the event of abuse or other factors. Victims of abuse and the subjects of such allegations often wonder how these claims will impact decisions regarding alimony.

There are several different types of alimony and several factors that are considered when a judge determines whether alimony is appropriate and if so, how much. For example, some spouses may receive temporary support, allowing them an opportunity to get back on their feet financially following the end of a marriage while others may be awarded permanent support. Though a judge may consider the length of the marriage, the age of the spouses and the contributions of one spouse to another's career, the goal of such payments is to ensure that one spouse does not live in poverty while the other is financially secure.

Alimony may be awarded regardless of whether it is a fault or no-fault divorce. However, claims of abuse would likely fall under cruelty grounds in states that have fault divorces. Though such claims could be considered when deciding on an amount, alimony payments are not intended to be used to punish someone. However, the court will likely want to ensure that a spouse who is the victim of abuse has the ability to move on in life following a divorce. Depending on the extent of the abuse, a judge will consider whether abuse impacted the person physically, emotionally or mentally to the extent that he or she is unable to work and be self-supporting.

Simply making a claim in a New Jersey court that a person is the victim of abuse will be insufficient in the eyes of the judge; there must be evidence to support such claims if they are to be successful. For example, the judge will consider police reports and photographs as well as testimony from both witnesses to the abuse and mental health professionals -- among other evidence -- before factoring such claims into alimony awards. Because of this, both victims of abuse and those accused may want an experienced attorney on their side.

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Rated by Super Lawyers - Jose I. Bastarrika - SuperLawyers.com
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Rated by Super Lawyers - Rising Stars - John T. Somohano - SuperLawyers.com
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