Alimony And Custody Statutes
In all actions brought for divorce, dissolution of a civil union, divorce from bed and board, legal separation from a partner in a civil union couple or nullity the court may award one or more of the following types of alimony: open durational alimony; rehabilitative alimony; limited duration alimony or reimbursement alimony to either party. In doing so the court shall consider, but not be limited to, the following factors:
(1) The actual need and ability of the parties to pay
(2) The duration of the marriage or civil union
(3) The age, physical and emotional health of the parties
(4) The standard of living established in the marriage or civil union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living, with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other
(5) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills and employability of the parties
(6) The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance
(7) The parental responsibilities for the children
(8) The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income
(9) The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage or civil union by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities
(10) The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution (directly or indirectly) out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair
(11) The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party
(12) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable payment
(13) The nature, amount and length of pendente lite support paid, if any
(14) Any other factors that the court may deem relevant
In each case where the court is asked to make an award of alimony, the court shall consider and assess evidence with respect to all relevant statutory factors. If the court determines that certain factors are more or less relevant than others, the court shall make specific written findings of fact and conclusions of law on the reasons why the court reached that conclusion. No factor shall be elevated in importance over any other factor unless the court finds otherwise, in which case the court shall make specific written findings of fact and conclusions of law in that regard.
When a share of a retirement benefit is treated as an asset for purposes of equitable distribution, the court shall not consider income generated thereafter by that share for purposes of determining alimony.
Custody Of Children Statute
The Legislature finds and declares that it is in the public policy of this State to assure minor children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage and that it is in the public interest to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing in order to affect this policy.
In any proceeding involving the custody of a minor child, the rights of both parents shall be equal, and the court shall enter an order that may include:
- Joint custody of a minor child to both parents, which is comprised of legal custody or physical custody which shall include: (1) provisions for residential arrangements so that a child shall reside either solely with one parent or alternatively with each parent in accordance with the needs of the parents and the child; and (2) provisions for consultation between the parents in making major decisions regarding the child’s health, education and general welfare
- Sole custody to one parent with appropriate parenting time for the noncustodial parent
- Any other custody arrangement as the court may determine to be in the best interests of the child
In making an award of custody, the court shall consider but not be limited to the following factors: the parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child; the parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse; the interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings; the history of domestic violence, if any; the safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent; the preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision; the needs of the child; the stability of the home environment offered; the quality and continuity of the child’s education; the fitness of the parents; the geographical proximity of the parents’ homes; the extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation; the parents’ employment responsibilities; and the age and number of the children. A parent shall not be deemed unfit unless the parent’s conduct has a substantial adverse effect on the child.
The court, for good cause and upon its own motion, may appoint a guardian ad litem or an attorney or both to represent the minor child’s interests. The court shall have the authority to award a counsel fee to the guardian ad litem and the attorney and to assess that cost between the parties to the litigation.
- The court shall order any custody arrangement that is agreed to by both parents unless it is contrary to the best interests of the child.
- In any case in which the parents cannot agree to a custody arrangement, the court may require each parent to submit a custody plan that the court shall consider in awarding custody.
- The court shall specifically place on the record the factors that justify any custody arrangement not agreed to by both parents.