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  • Allison Kruk Ormond

Are you a saver? Could mean more alimony.

Updated: Apr 9

By Allison Kruk Ormond, Esq


This month, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court determined that a married couple’s practice of regularly setting aside income for savings should be factored into an alimony award. 


In Openshaw v. Openshaw, the married couple at issue had a generous annual income of approximately $1.3 million, but lived a relatively modest lifestyle. Instead, throughout the marriage, the couple chose to tuck away their earnings and save for a rainy day. 


Eventually, the marriage broke down, and the parties elected to file for divorce. As part of the divorce judgment, the trial court determined that the couple’s habit of saving during the marriage should factor into alimony payments. In other words, the standard of living established during the length of the marriage included not just what the couple decided to spend but what they decided to save. 

This month, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court determined that a married couple’s practice of regularly setting aside income for savings should be factored into an alimony award.

The payor spouse disputed this mechanism of determining the marital standard of living and the

alimony award. Consequently, he filed an appeal. 


However, the Appellate Court in Massachusetts affirmed the financial support awarded. The Court further agreed that a couple’s practice of saving money should be factored into the marital lifestyle and alimony paid. 


Similar decisions have been reached in states like California. 


For example, in In Re Marriage of Winter, the California Court affirmed that a couple’s practice of saving and investing their marital earnings is a relevant factor in determining an alimony award. In writing its opinion, the Court stated, “We fail to see why Wife should be deprived of her accustomed life-style just because it involved the purchase of stocks and bonds rather than fur coats.”


Do Savings and Investments Factor Into Alimony in A New Jersey Divorce?


The New Jersey courts have handed down similar rulings on how a savings component should factor into an alimony award. 


In the divorce process, alimony depends on a variety of statutory factors. These alimony factors are outlined in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 (or 23 Pa C.S. §3701 for alimony cases in Pennsylvania). 


One of these statutory factors in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania divorce cases is the standard of living established during the marriage, also known as the “marital lifestyle”.  Usually, when people think of the marital lifestyle, they think of the amount of money a couple spends. However, part of a marital budget may be the amount a couple puts into savings each week or each month.


In New Jersey, the Court has found that this savings component should be considered as part of the marital lifestyle. In other words, the spouse seeking alimony can ask the Court to take into account the practice of saving money during the marriage.


The New Jersey Court made its position on savings and alimony clear in Lombardi v. Lombardi. There, one spouse was ordered to pay alimony, but the couple’s savings was not factored into the marital lifestyle budget, leading to a lesser alimony award. 


The supported spouse appealed and argued that failing to include the couple’s savings practices in the marital budget would allow the payor spouse to continue to benefit from the marital standard of living, but would deny her the same opportunity. 


In ruling for the supported spouse, the Lombardi Court underscored that the “goal of alimony” is to assist the supported spouse in attaining a standard of living “reasonably comparable” to the one enjoyed during the marriage. The Court further highlighted that the marital standard of living must be the “touchstone” for an initial alimony determination. 


The Court went on to state, “the Family Part must in its assessment of a marital lifestyle give due consideration to evidence of regular savings adhered to by the parties during the marriage.” 


Schedule a Free Consultation With An Alimony Attorney Near You


Alimony, equitable distribution, and the marital lifestyle can be complex considerations in any divorce proceeding. Having a knowledgeable divorce attorney by your side can make all the



difference in the outcome of your case.


Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a South Jersey and Philadelphia divorce lawyer and get the strategic skill and legal acumen you need to protect your rights and safeguard your future. 

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