The New Hampshire Legislature has enacted changes in the New Hampshire alimony law, effective January 1, 2019, that will be far reaching and important. The change is made necessary by the change in the federal law that takes alimony out from the status of being a deductible expense for the payor and makes payment of the alimony from after tax dollars. Formerly, it was part of the negotiation process to realize that it would cost a payor less to pay a particular amount of alimony if he or she was in a higher tax bracket than the payee. That is all changing.
Another important change is a cap on the percentage amount of alimony to be paid. The amount is 30% of the difference between the payor’s gross income and the payee’s gross income. There was no such limitation in the law as it stood prior to January 2019. Finally, there are guidelines for the duration of alimony. Previously, there were no guidelines concerning alimony duration before the changes were enacted.
It is difficult to predict how the new statute will impact cases going forward. How will payors be able to anticipate what their tax consequences will be in future years? Is the percentage limit something that is to be determined at the time of the negotiation or order, or is that to be redetermined on a yearly basis when the tax data is available? Lastly, how will the new law affect alimony orders that are already in place?
Answers to these questions will not likely come any time soon. It will be interesting to see how the system reacts to these changes.
By: Kent Barker
Attorney Kent M. Barker practices Personal Injury, Family & Divorce, and Criminal Law at Winer & Bennett, LLP. To receive expert and experienced Family & Divorce counsel paired with compassion and understanding, call 603-882-5157. Visit our website at www.winerbennett.com.