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Awarded alimony? Prepare to track the payments

There are many different issues involved in divorce. And although every case is unique, the number of issues that must be discussed will be myriad in every one. How will property division be handled? Are children involved? What are the custody, parenting time and support parameters? Did the spouses sign a prenuptial agreement before they walked down the aisle?

And then there is the matter of spousal support, which is not guaranteed to be involved or awarded in any given divorce-much like all the issues mentioned above. But when it is involved, it behooves the spouses to consider the 14 factors that go into determining the amount of spousal support that can be awarded in New Jersey. 

These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The actual need and ability of the parties to pay
  • The duration of the marriage or civil union
  • The age, physical and emotional health of the parties
  • The standard of living established in the marriage

Parties must also consider how spousal support will be paid from one spouse to another. The parties can agree to payment through the appropriate county's Probation Department (which may include wage garnishment) or utilize a direct pay arrangement. If parties agree to a direct pay arrangement whereby one spouse provides the spousal support directly to the other, the arrangement must be clearly defined with deadlines for each monthly payment, the manner in which payments are to be made, and what occurs in the event payments are late.

When determining the manner in which payments are to be made, the parties should ensure that there is documentation evidencing each payment. The parties may want to consider direct payment of spousal support by way of (1) direct deposit into a bank account; (2) electronic transfer utilizing PayPal, Venmo, or some other provider; (3) check; or (4) cash. It is of paramount importance that both the paying spouse and the receiving spouse keep detailed records of all spousal support payments paid and received. To that end, each party should keep records of each payment, including:

  • The date of the payment
  • The address the payment was sent to and from
  • The amount of the payment
  • The banks and account numbers used for the payment

If the paying spouse pays by cash, then the parties should make a receipt signed by both parties to signify the completion of the transaction.

All of these records will come into play for tax season, because for parties divorced prior to January 1, 2019, the paying spouse can deduct the payments from their taxable income, while the receiving spouse must include it in their taxable income. If you have questions about tracking alimony payments, an experienced New Jersey family law attorney can help. 

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