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Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a difficult issue in any divorce and often one of the most combative areas of a divorce. Whether you will be paying or receiving alimony, your primary concern is to be able to afford to live well after your divorce. When you are going through a divorce, it is important for you to understand how alimony is determined in the State of New Jersey, especially given that the alimony statute was substantially revised in September 2014.
The primary purpose of alimony in New Jersey is to enable the supported spouse to continue to maintain the standard of living that the parties enjoyed during the marriage. However, it is important to remember that two households will now be running on the same amount of money that was once used to run one. As such, many people find themselves having to look for new employment or an adjusted quality of life as a result of a divorce. Our lawyers can represent you throughout your divorce proceedings to ensure a fair alimony agreement is drafted.
There is no set formula for determining how much alimony a person will pay or receive. Instead, the Court will consider any agreement by the parties, the particular facts of the case, case law, and the statutory alimony factors under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b) as follows:
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The parties’ age, physical and emotional health.
- The standard of living established in the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonable comparable standard of living.
- The earning capabilities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties.
- The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance.
- The parental responsibilities for the children.
- The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.
- The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities.
- The equitable distribution of property and payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair.
- The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party.
- The tax treatment and consequences to both of any alimony award including the designation of all or a portion of the payments as a non-taxable payment.
Forms of Alimony Available in New Jersey:
Depending on the facts of your specific case, alimony payments can be for a specific period of time, which is knowns as Limited Duration Alimony. This is generally available for marriages lasting less than 20 years. For marriages lasting 20 years or more, it is likely that Open Durational Alimony (formerly known as permanent alimony) will be put in place. Even if you are married less than 20 years, you could still be entitled to Open Durational Alimony under what the statute states as “Exceptional Circumstances.”
Limited Duration Alimony- These are alimony payments that are to be made for a set period and have a fixed end date. Limited Duration Alimony is awarded in marriages that span less than 20 years and cannot exceed the length of the marriage unless there are unusual circumstances such as a spouse being disabled during the marriage. In determining the length of the term, the Court will consider the amount of time that it would reasonably take for the recipient to improve his or her earning capacity to a level where the supported spouse becomes self-supporting at the marital standard of living.
Open Durational Alimony- This type of alimony is awarded in long-term marriages, defined as 20 years or more. Although the term has no end date, the payor has the right to request a termination upon reaching the full age of retirement. Additionally, the parties have the right to request a modification (reduction or termination) upon a substantial change in circumstances since entry of the Divorce.
Rehabilitative Alimony- This type of support is designed to allow the supported spouse time to reenter the workforce and gain the necessary skill set or education to do so. It is based upon a plan in which the payee shows the scope of rehabilitation, the steps to be taken, and the time frame, including a period of employment during which the rehabilitation will occur. While this is a short-term award of spousal support, rehabilitative alimony can be paid to a spouse along with other types of alimony.
Reimbursement Alimony- These types of alimony payments are made where one spouse contributed to the other’s education, career or advancement. An award of reimbursement alimony may not be modified for any reason.
Pendente Lite Support- Pendente lite is Latin for “during the litigation.” The purpose of pendente lite support is to maintain the status quo based on the need of the parties during the Divorce. This is subject to change and considered temporary. What is paid to a spouse in pendente lite alimony is not always reflective of what will be paid to the spouse after the divorce. In addition to pendente lite alimony, the supporting spouse may be ordered by the Court to also pay what is commonly referred to as “roof expenses” i.e. the mortgage on the marital home where the spouse and children usually live, as well as other expenses.
We Can Help You Strategize for Maximum Results
Our practice is dedicated exclusively to family and matrimonial law so you can count on us to present you with a sound strategy on your alimony issue, regardless of whether you expect to be paying or receiving alimony. We strive to meet your objectives by making sure you are a well-informed client.
While alimony is just one aspect of a divorce, it is usually a highly contentious aspect. To discuss your alimony issue with an experienced alimony lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Sylvia S. Costantino, Esq., LLC today.
Our firm represents clients in Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset, Union, Middlesex and other counties throughout New Jersey.