Alimony/Maintenance/Spousal Support in a New Jersey Divorce

As of 1999, four types of Alimony are permitted in New Jersey:

  • Limited duration alimony
  • Permanent alimony
  • Reimbursement alimony
  • Rehabilitative alimony

Limited duration alimony is awarded when economic assistance is necessary for a limited time. In determining the length of the term, the court must consider the length of time it would reasonably take for the recipient to improve his or her earning capacity to a point where limited duration alimony is no longer needed.

Limited duration alimony is not awarded as a substitute for permanent alimony in a case where permanent alimony would otherwise be awarded. The court may modify the amount of the award but not the duration except in unusual circumstances. The length of the term is based on the time it would take for the recipient to improve his or her earning capacity, to where limited duration alimony is no longer needed. Limited duration alimony, like permanent alimony, terminates upon the remarriage of the spouse receiving it.

Reimbursement alimony is awarded for a limited time and to compensate a spouse who supported the other party through an advanced education. It may be awarded separately or in conjunction with limited duration or rehabilitative alimony. Reimbursement alimony is not terminated upon remarriage unless the court finds that the circumstances upon which the award was based have not occurred, or the payer spouse demonstrates an agreement or good cause to the contrary.

Rehabilitative alimony is awarded based upon a plan in which the payee shows the scope of the rehabilitation the steps to be taken and the time frame, including the period of employment during which rehabilitation will occur. Rehabilitative alimony may be changed based on a change of circumstances.

New Jersey has case law and a statute that requires the courts to consider very specific factors when it calculates alimony. There are some guidelines and objective standards for the courts to consider, but there is not specific formula for a family court to calculate alimony.

In general, New Jersey case law states that the court must consider the marital lifestyle, the supporting spouse's ability to pay, and the dependent spouse's ability to contribute to his/her own support.

The alimony statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b) states that the court must consider the following thirteen factors:

  1. The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
  2. The duration of the marriage or civil union;
  3. The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
  4. The standard of living established in the marriage or civil union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living;
  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 and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
  9. The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage or 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 of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair;
  11. The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;
  12. The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment; and
  13. Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.

When a share of a retirement benefit is treated as an asset for purposes of equitable distribution, the court shall not consider income generated thereafter by that share for purposes of determining alimony.

Alimony is payment made by one party to the other after the divorce, either by court order or by mutual agreement. This type of post-divorce payment is also sometimes referred to as maintenance. For specific information on alimony, custody, child support, and related topics, see:

Under New Jersey law, married people are financially responsible for each other - the husband has a duty to support his wife, and the wife has a duty to support her husband. This duty lasts until the final Decree in Divorce is granted. It doesn't stop simply because the couple separates. Once the parties file for a mutual-consent no-fault divorce, they must wait at least 90 days and often significantly longer before the final Decree in Divorce is granted. During this period, an agreement on support payments may be appropriate if the parties are separated.

Alimony in New Jersey is authorized in limited situations and is not the broad remedy that it is in other states. Alimony in New Jersey is either "rehabilitative" or "permanent".

Rehabilitative alimony is intended to be a short-term measure which enables a spouse to get back on his or her feet. Alimony is awarded to enable the other spouse to go back to school or to acquire needed skills that would enable the spouse to be competitive in the job market. Usually a spouse who has chosen the role of becoming a homemaker and raising children has not been able to develop the skills necessary for productive and gainful employment.

"Permanent alimony" continues for a long period of time, possibly until the death of the party receiving the alimony and is usually awarded when one of the parties is unable to work due to age physical or mental illness.

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