What Do You Really Know about Alimony in NJ?
The comparison is worth repeating. In many ways, the end of a marriage is like the end of a business partnership. In divorce terms, dividing up the assets and debts is known as equitable distribution. When some business relationships fall apart, long-term payout agreements may be put in place. This somewhat represents the concept of alimony payments.
You may need to dismiss your assumptions about alimony awards. Many are under the misimpression that ten years is a magic number when it comes to permanent spousal support. A low-earning spouse may actually hold off on filing divorce papers until the marriage has passed a ten-year mark.
Of course, the alternative is also true. Take for example the case of Jose and Maria Rivera. They were high school sweethearts. Maria went on to college and ultimately landed a lucrative professional sales consultant position in the pharmaceutical industry. She easily makes six figures year after year.
Jose’s income will never come close to Maria’s earning capacity. However, he does enjoy their quality of life. As far as Jose is concerned, the couple has their share of disagreements, but none worth ending the marriage. He is shocked when he is served with divorce papers – just a month before their tenth year wedding anniversary.
While the length of marriage is a consideration in alimony proceedings, there are other concerns. On its own accord, a ten-year marriage doesn’t necessarily equate to lifetime spousal support. New Jersey’s alimony laws are not as cut and dry as you might think.
NJ Alimony Laws
If you’re under the impression that only husbands have to pay alimony, you are incorrect. Without question, alimony is gender neutral. Meanwhile, you should know that NJ’s alimony statute changed in 2014. There are four different types of alimony as described below:
- Open durational alimony: Generally, only available for parties who were married more than twenty years. Open durational means that the court has not assigned a specific date that the support payments will end. The parties may agree to end alimony payments. Additionally, either party may motion the court for modifications regarding an increase or reduction in support. This must be accompanied by evidence of a change in circumstances. Cohabitation and remarriage would warrant termination of open durational alimony.
- Rehabilitative alimony: The spouse with higher earnings may be better educated and thus will continue to prosper financially. In some cases, a husband or wife may have stayed home to raise children and has limited work skills. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded on a short-term basis to allow time for the recipient to gain training needed to increase earnings on their own.
- Limited duration alimony: Reserved for parties who meet the qualifications for spousal support, but have been married less than twenty years. The award for limited duration alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage. Therefore, a spouse married for fifteen years will not receive alimony payments for more than fifteen years.
- Reimbursement alimony: “Awarded under circumstances in which one party supported the other through an advanced education, anticipating participation in the fruits of the earning capacity generated by that education.” Unlike the other types of alimony, this type of award cannot be modified for any
You should know that several factors are considered in determining whether or not alimony should be awarded. Look for our article next week for more in-depth information on what the court uses before ordering spousal support.
At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we know that divorce comes with a plethora of emotional and financial concerns. Our experience helps many individuals get through this difficult process. Please give us a call to see how we can assist you.