Alimony or spousal support is a monthly payment made by one spouse to another in accordance with either a settlement agreement or a court decision. It exists to balance a disparity of income between the two spouses and to help them maintain a lifestyle similar to the one enjoyed before the separation or divorce.
On September 10, 2014 a new alimony statute was enacted in New Jersey. This statute applies to couples that get divorced after the effective date of the statute. It does not apply to anyone whose divorce was finalized prior to the statute’s effective date whether by agreement or by a final judgment.
As outlined in the statute, there are four different types of alimony that can be granted. They include open durational, limited duration, rehabilitative, and reimbursement. The amount and duration of the alimony to be paid depends on many factors including;

  1. The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
  2. The duration of the marriage/civil union;
  3. The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
  4. The standard of living established and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard than the other;
  5. The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
  6. The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;
  7. The parental responsibilities for the children;
  8. The time/expense necessary to acquire sufficient education/training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training/employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
  9. The history of the financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage/civil union by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;
  10. The equitable distribution ordered, and any payouts of equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair;
  11. The income available to each party through investment of assets held by that party;
  12. The tax treatment/consequences to both parties of the alimony award, including whether all or a part of it is non-taxable;
  13. The nature, amount and length of pendent lite support paid, if any;
  14. Other factors the Court may deem relevant.

Open durational alimony will only be awarded following a long-term marriage of 20 years or more. Generally, alimony will continue until the court terminates support or the parties agree to the termination. This type of alimony can be modified (reduced or terminated) upon a substantial change of circumstances, such as remarriage of the dependent spouse, disability of either spouse or retirement. There is a rebuttable presumption that alimony will terminate upon the obligor spouse/partner attaining full retirement age, which is defined as eligibility to receive full retirement benefits under Social Security. The Court can set a different termination date and the rebuttable presumption may be overcome based on a variety of factors.
Limited durational alimony will generally be awarded where the marriage/civil union lasted less than 20 years in duration. The term of alimony is typically stated in years and will not exceed the length of the marriage, except in exceptional circumstances. In determining the length of the term, the court will consider the time it would reasonably take the dependent spouse to improve their earning capacity to a level where the limited durational alimony is no longer appropriate. It can be modified based on “changed circumstances” or the nonoccurrence of events that the Court found would happen at the time of the award. The Court can modify the amount, but not the term, absent unusual circumstances.
Rehabilitative alimony is designed to get the dependent spouse back on his/her feet with a goal to make him/her more employable. A rehabilitative alimony award must be based on a plan which shows the recipient’s scope of rehabilitation, steps to be taken to accomplish that plan and the time frame during which the rehabilitation will occur. Rehabilitative alimony can be modified upon “changed circumstances” or the nonoccurrence of circumstances the Court found would occur at the time of the award.
Reimbursement alimony is awarded under circumstances in which one party supported the other through an advanced education. Reimbursement alimony is non-modifiable for any reason.

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