Lawyers do it. Judges do it too. Mediators do it. And so do arbitrators.
They do it even though the NJ Appellate Courts have consistently said "don't do it!" What are they doing?
They are using a formula to try to determine what the supporting spouse's financial obligation will be to the supported spouse (i.e., usually the husband's obligation to the wife).
Unlike child support, there is no "formula" for determining alimony in New Jersey. And so, a creative group of professionals have come up with their own formula that has been used, both formally and informally, for at least a decade now by judges, lawyers, mediators, and arbitrators.
This "formula" is as follows: husband's income minus wife's income divided by three equals alimony.
Thus, for example, if the husband earns $200,000 per year and the wife earns $20,000 per year, then the wife would be entitled to $60,000 per year as alimony using "the one third formula."
Is this good? Is it bad?
I don't know…
I do know that what is supposed to happen is that we are supposed to look at the NJ alimony laws, apply the listed dozen or so factors to the particular facts of a given case, and then we are supposed to estimate what a particular judge in that case will do when applying those facts to the NJ alimony laws in an effort to come up with a fair alimony award.
That is a pretty complicated exercise for anyone to engage in.
The one third alimony rule is a whole lot simpler, and perhaps that is why it has been an informal guide to the resolution of most alimony issues that I have seen during the past decade, even though the Appellate Division of the Superior Court keeps saying "don't do it." I am just telling you the way it is, even though it is not the way it's supposed to be.
There are exceptions, however. For example, take a look at how NJ alimony laws are applied to a disabled person.
Click below to learn about 13 alimony laws in New Jersey that you really should know about.