Overview: Alimony in New Jersey
When a couple divorces, sometimes a person asks for alimony (also known as spousal support) when there is a large disparity in incomes between the spouses. This is meant to create an equitable solution when one spouse sacrifices career for family, or to help prevent one individual from falling into immediate poverty or needing state services as a result of the divorce. Each state has their own guidelines and factors that the courts consider when calculating alimony. Here is a short guide to New Jersey’s spousal support law.
How Is Spousal Support Defined In New Jersey?
While a commonly known term, alimony is not applicable in every divorce case in New Jersey. This amount is calculated by considering a number of issues, and there is no hard-and-fast formula for determining it. Instead, the courts (or the parties in negotiation) examine factors like the length of marriage, the earning power of each spouse, balance of responsibility in raising/caring for the children, and the contributions each spouse has made to the education or career of the other during the marriage. If a court determines that spousal support is necessary in a case, there are five basic types based on the circumstances involved.
Types of Spousal Support
- Open Durational Alimony. Previously known as “permanent alimony,” this type only applies to marriages over 20 years, or in rare cases when the circumstances warrant it.
- Limited Durational Alimony. Like the name suggests, this is when one spouse pays support to another for a specific amount of time, usually to allow the other spouse to achieve financial independence. This type is usually applied to marriages of under 20 years.
- Reimbursement Alimony. Similar in time-frame to limited durational, this type is specifically to compensate a spouse for the contributions they made to the other’s education or career. For example, if one spouse worked while the other attended medical or law school, upon divorce the working spouse can ask for reimbursement alimony.
- Rehabilitative Alimony. This type allows the non-working spouse (usually the stay-at-home parent) the opportunity to ask for funds to help them re-enter the workforce. This may mean that someone needs training or education to do so, and as long as they can provide a plan to achieve that, a court may award this type of alimony.
- Pendente Lite. Also known as temporary alimony. This is what a spouse pays to the other while the divorce procedures are on-going. This is replaced with one of the above plans in the divorce decree.
A spouse can petition the court to increase, decrease, or eliminate spousal support based on a material change in the family situation. If a spouse makes a career move that sees a significant rise in their yearly income, the other can ask for alimony to be modified. If you think that spousal support warrants modification, be sure to contact an attorney to help you gather the evidence needed to prove that this is the case. If a spouse is not paying alimony as ordered, a court can hold them in contempt and force them to pay the amount owed, structure an income-withholding plan for repayment, or even hand down a judgment forcing them to pay then entire amount.
Contact A Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Divorce Today!
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or division of property, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Davis & Mendelson represent clients throughout the state, including Cherry Hill, Moorestown, Medford and Mt. Laurel and throughout Camden County. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at 856-627-0100 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 1200 Laurel Oak Road Suite 101, Voorhees, NJ 08043.
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.