New Jersey alimony awards are intended to allow divorcing couples to maintain their current lifestyle and assist a spouse who is working toward financial independence. Not all divorces include alimony, but for those that do, the type of alimony, the amount of alimony, and the duration of time that alimony is to be awarded are important factors for both spouses. An experienced South Jersey divorce lawyer can ensure that each spouse gets a fair deal.
New Jersey identifies five types of alimony, each specific to the needs and abilities of the divorcing couple. The five types of alimony can be used singularly, or in combination with each other.
- Limited Duration Alimony: When a spouse is working toward financial independence, this type of alimony is based on the financial needs of that spouse and continued until the time that independence is achieved.
- Pendente Lite or Temporary Alimony: This type of alimony is used to help an underemployed or unemployed spouse maintain their standard of living during the divorce proceedings.
- Permanent Alimony: Permanent alimony is awarded to a spouse that has sacrificed their career or education in order for the other spouse to pursue or develop their education or career.
- Rehabilitative Alimony: This type of alimony is awarded to a spouse that is pursuing training or education necessary to become financially self supporting. The spouse that requests this type of alimony must provide the court with a rehabilitation plan that includes specific rehabilitative services, a predicted time frame to implement the plan, and the length of employment necessary to establish financial independence.
- Reimbursement Alimony: Sometimes a divorce will occur after a spouse has invested time and marital finances in the advanced education of the other spouse. When the divorce occurs before the advantages of the sacrifice are available, the spouse may be entitled to reimbursement alimony.
New Jersey has no specific formula used to decide alimony awards, but careful consideration is given to some very specific factors. First and foremost, the judge considers the length of the marriage, the ages and health of each person, and the financial needs of one spouse in relation to the ability to pay by the other spouse. The judge must also look at each spouse’s education level and potential earning capacity, the income of each spouse, and the standard of living that the couple enjoyed during the marriage.
Moreover, a family court considers the parental responsibilities of each parent, the financial and personal offerings each partner contributed during the marriage, and what time frame and financial resources will be needed for the dependent spouse to reach financial independence. Changes that occur in the circumstances stipulated in the alimony arrangement can lead to modifications or termination of alimony. Factors including remarriage, a change in employment status or income, or circumstances that prevented the completion of the rehabilitation of a spouse within the expected time frame can initiate a reassessment of the award.
Remarriage is the most common factor necessitating a modification or termination of limited duration and permanent alimony awards. Rehabilitative and reimbursement alimony awards are not affected by remarriage. In the event of the death of either spouse, the alimony awards are terminated. Alimony payments are tax deductible for the providing spouse and must be reported as income by the receiving spouse. Lawyer fees and court costs are most often assumed by the providing spouse.