The end of a marital relationship is frequently a challenging emotional experience. However, the end of marriage is made even more difficult if one of the partners has difficulty paying for life’s essentials.
In order for the court to award one of the partners alimony, family court must consider up to 13 factors provided in the New Jersey Alimony Statute [N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b)], including 1) need-demonstrated and the ability of one of the partners to pay; 2) the marriage or civil union term (duration); 3) the partners’ ages, emotional health, and physical status; 4) the standard of living enjoyed by the partners in the marriage or union; 5) the partners’ earnings capabilities and employability; 6) how long has the partner seeking financial support been absent from the job market (how long has he or she been unemployed); 7) partners’ responsibilities for children, if any; 8) time and money needed for the partner seeking support to acquire education/training necessary to find a job; 9) contributions made by both partners to the marriage or union; 10) “equitable distribution of marital assets”; and 11) funds available from liquidation of assets.
Depending on the divorcing couple’s financial circumstances in New Jersey, the family court may award the following types of spousal support:
#1Open Durational Alimony (formerly known as ” Permanent Alimony”) is awarded if the couple enjoyed a long marriage (or civil union) in which one of the partners was financially dependent on his or her spouse and now has financial need. Under the previous law, permanent alimony could have been modified upon a substantial change in circumstances, such as disability, unemployment, retirement, or a change in need by the payee or change in ability to pay by the payor. Open durational alimony, which has an open term until the court terminates it or the parties agree to terminate it, generally applies to marriages over 20 years in length. This type of alimony can also be modified (reduced or terminated) upon a substantial change in circumstances.
#2 Rehabilitative Alimony is usually paid out over a short period to allow one of the partners to attain self-sufficiency, such as taking a training program, completing an education program, or getting needed work experience. This type of spousal support is paid for a certain purpose—it’s not paid to maintain the partner’s lifestyle he or she enjoyed in the marriage. Alimony payments stop when the partner is self-supporting.
However, it’s possible for a partner to receive both permanent and rehabilitative alimony, especially if the partner still has a low earnings potential after completing an education course and the marriage or union’s duration if one of the partners can support these payments.
#3 Limited Duration Alimony is a type of alimony paid for short-duration marriages. The Alimony Statute was amended in 1999 to allow the family court to award a specific alimony term (payments made over a specific period of years). The court may, therefore, award limitation duration instead of permanent alimony to a younger spouse with reasonable employment prospects. If all factors between partners [noted in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b)(1)-(13)] are the same, the court considers the marriage or union duration. Rarely, the family court may award permanent alimony for a short or medium-duration relationship.
#4 Reimbursement Alimony is awarded when one of the partners repays previous support, such as when one of the partners supported the other’s advanced education. The understanding between the partners in that scenario was made with the expectation that the partner’s education would create financial benefits for both partners later on. For instance, if one of the partners works to allow his or her spouse to complete medical school and, after graduation, he or she moves to dissolve the union, the family court may award this type of spousal support.
Spousal support is a complex topic. It tends to evolve to reflect social norms. If you have concerns about spousal support, child support, or divorce in New Jersey, contact Nitti & Nitti Attorneys at Law in Essex County at 973-226-4141 or via our online contact form.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.