Alimony, or spousal support, refers to financial payments made from one spouse to the other during or following a divorce to maintain a similar standard of living. The main purpose of alimony is to allow each spouse equal or similar financial standing, and is typically awarded to the lower-earning, dependent spouse.
Alimony is not automatic in New Jersey and not all spouses are eligible. Spousal support is often one of the most contested requests in divorce cases. Alimony in New Jersey is based upon a multitude of factors to make the decision as equally fair as possible to each spouse.
Are There Different Types of Alimony in New Jersey?
Some states allow spouses to receive permanent alimony, or until the recipient remarries, depending on the terms of the divorce agreement. New Jersey is not one of these states and does not award permanent alimony. Courts in New Jersey instead follow certain alimony structures when determining the type and duration of alimony:
- Open durational alimony: This type of alimony is usually reserved for spouses in marriages lasting 20 or more years and an undetermined amount of time, making it the most similar to permanent alimony. Open durational alimony is subject to end if the recipient becomes financially independent or the courts deem it appropriate to end payments.
- Limited durational alimony: In limited duration judgements, the judge may award alimony with a specific amount and time period to dependent spouses in short-term marriages.
- Rehabilitative alimony: Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded on a short-term basis to dependent spouses to further their education for employment purposes, such as one spouse who deferred a career to support the other spouse and be the primary caregiver of children.
- Reimbursement alimony: This type of alimony may be awarded should one spouse decide to further their education or training for new employment and the other spouse pays. Following the divorce, the recipient spouse may be required to reimburse the paying spouse.
- Pendente lite support: It is common to experience financial difficulties when divorcing, particularly if one spouse is the primary source of income. In cases where a spouse needs assistance to cover living expenses while the divorce is pending, the judge may award temporary support.
What Factors Do Judges Consider When Determining Alimony?
In New Jersey, when deciding whether to grant alimony in divorce cases, judges consider the following statutory factors:
- The length of the marriage. Those married longer are often awarded alimony more frequently than those in short-term marriages.
- The level of parenting responsibility of each spouse.
- The financial history of the marriage and each spouse’s financial contributions to the marriage.
- The equitable distribution and payouts of property.
- The available investment income of each spouse.
- The necessity of alimony and the ability to pay.
- The standard of living while married.
- The employment opportunities and earning capacities of each spouse.
- The number of years the spouse seeking alimony was unemployed.
- The age and health condition of each spouse.
- Any tax consequences to each spouse resulting from alimony.
- The cost and time involvement required for job training.
- Any other relevant factors affecting the court’s decision, such as domestic violence or restraining orders.
The court can also determine the method and period of payment, for instance, recurring monthly or one lump sum payment. Courts do not typically grant requests to set aside alimony decisions, however, modifications may be considered if one spouse has a significant change in circumstances during the set alimony period.
Whitehouse Divorce Lawyers at Martin & Tune, Attorneys at Law Advocate for Clients Seeking Spousal Support Following Divorce
Requests for alimony should be expressed early in the divorce process and properly evidenced to demonstrate the need based upon the state’s criteria. The experienced Whitehouse divorce lawyers at Martin & Tune, Attorneys at Law can help guide you through the entire divorce process and ensure you retain a fair and equitable outcome of the entire divorce to the outcome that best fits your needs, including alimony. Call us today at 908-534-9091 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. We serve clients in throughout the State of New Jersey, including Whitehouse, Hunterdon County, Monmouth County, Tewksbury, Somerville, and Bedminster.