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 Whippany, New Jersey | New York, New York
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Many couples beginning the divorce process are often concerned, and rightfully so, about how they will be able to maintain their “standard of living” once the single household is divided in two and doubling many expenses. How will they maintain the standard of living? Sometimes there is enough wealth and equity that the separation and divorce with have a minimal, if any, effect on the spending habits of the parties. On the other hand, quite often, what worked when the parties were together, cannot possibly be accomplished once they are apart.

In a recent written opinion by New Jersey Superior Court Judge Lawrence R. Jones, J.S.C., the Court addressed the issue of pendente lite alimony, and whether parties should be expected to maintain the marital standard of living.

In light of the recent amendments to New Jersey’s alimony statute – N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b) – the Court held that 1) Retention of the “marital lifestyle” is not the sole criteria in pendente lite alimony analysis and 2) In many divorce cases, it is mathematically probable that following separation, neither party will be financially able to maintain the former “marital lifestyle.” Real numbers have to be used.

In Malek v. Malek, Docket No. FM-15-1028-16, the Plaintiff is a teacher earning $90,000. The Defendant is a hairdresser with an imputed income of $20,000. Together they were living paycheck to paycheck. The parties separated and shared joint legal and residential custody. The Defendant filed a motion for pendente lite alimony. The Plaintiff argued that since the Defendant was living under her mother’s roof, there was no need for the spousal support…that there were no true expenses.

The Court recognized that there was obviously not enough money for both parties to maintain the marital lifestyle. But it also found that just because the Defendant was being assisted by her mother under financially challenging circumstances, it would not be appropriate or equitable to deny the Defendant reasonable interim support in order to meet a reasonable budget. The Court granted the Defendant pendente lite alimony.

It is important to understand that while the intent is to maintain the “marital lifestyle” concept, using “figure-based equity,” it is likely that neither party will be happy with the outcome. All of the alimony factors must be considered but the budget applied must be real. The parties need to have a firm grip on what the finances are, and what they will be, in order to prepare themselves for the future.

If you have questions or seek advice regarding the divorce process and/or spousal support, please contact us for a free ½ hour consultation.

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  • Whippany Office
    575 Route 10 East
    Suite 1
    Whippany, New Jersey 07981
    Phone: 973-428-0800
    Fax: 973-428-0830
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    New York, New York 10170
    Phone: 646-213-9053
Testimonials
  • "Without Tanya and her time, the really unpleasant experience of getting divorced would have been even worse. They were able to settle the matter very quickly and helped me fit this into my tight schedule allowing me to leave to move abroad for my dissertation research on time without having to delay the trip because of the divorce. They also did all of it within my very tight budget. Thank you so much for your help and dedication to my legal matter!"  - AG

  • "Tanya and her Associates are outstanding! What I admire most about Tanya is her knowledge of the law with her keen negotiation skills to foster mediation. Her strategies efficiently resolve conflict leading to the resolution of cases. She and her team have an outstanding work ethic, know what data are needed, and get the job done. It is a pleasure to work with such wonderful professionals."  - Tara, Whippany

  • "I found Ms. Helfand's knowledge and tenacity most reassuring during the ordeal of my divorce. She was steadfast in her guidance and was very effective in her negotiations on my behalf. I would recommend her without a second thought. "  -Jonathan

  • "Ms. Helfand was very professional and helpful with our bankruptcy case. Her advice was very useful and helped us make the proper decisions for our situation. In addition, she was very supportive during a very difficult time for us. Finally, she set very specific fee expectations and there were no surprises when it was completed. I would use her services again and would recommend her, without question."

  • "She is Incredible, very quick responding to the other party. Very professional and courteous. I highly recommend her. She has a great passion and love for every single case."

  • "Tanya and her team were very professional handling my divorce proceedings. She was very proactive in making the other attorney finally get the process moving forward. I would recommend her to anyone looking for legal services. "  -Scott

  • "Ms. Helfand strategized & processed, both, my Divorce & Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. As both cases were emotionally and legally challenging, Ms. Helfand proved to be an empowering Mentor along the path to clarity for which I am truly grateful. I highly recommend her legal expertise to anyone who is seeking a confident, savvy & caring attorney to become at peace with self and any legal matters."  -Vas

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