Alimony is governed by N.J.S.A. 2A34:23-b. In New Jersey, there are four categories of alimony to consider: (1) Limited Duration Alimony, (2) Reimbursement Alimony, (3) Rehabilitative Alimony, and (4) Permanent Alimony. Alimony payments can be adjusted based on a change in circumstance. In order to determine which alimony award(s) is most appropriate, the court must consider thirteen statutory factors:
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
- The duration of the marriage or civil union;
- The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
- 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;
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
- The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;
- The parental responsibilities for the children;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;
- 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
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
Limited Duration Alimony is a relatively new concept and has been recognized in the state of New Jersey for approximately 15 years. A limited duration alimony payment is made for a set amount of time. The amount may always be modified, but the term usually cannot, unless it falls under a very unusual circumstance.
Reimbursement Alimony is awarded when one party supported the other in furtherance of obtaining a higher level of education, with the expectation that they would share in the bounty of completion of that education.
Rehabilitative Alimony is used to put the recipient in a better financial position after the divorce so that they can become more competitive in the job market. For instance, if a party has a degree but has been out of the workforce for a while, a rehabilitative award might include paying the recipient to obtain a new certification or degree so that they can reenter the work force and make enough money to be independent and be responsible for their own expenses and obligations. Sometimes the court award rehabilitative alimony with other types of alimony.
Permanent Alimony is typically granted when the parties have been married for a significant amount of time ( in most cases, it could be a period greater than 10 years) and one party is unable to obtain a reasonable means of support which can be due to a number of factors including illness, lack of work experience, lack of education or prolonged absence from the job market. Permanent alimony will end on remarriage and could be subject to termination in the event that the recipient cohabitates with a new individual or significant change of circumstances is proven . Permanent alimony can also end on retirement or on any previously agreed upon event.
Speak with one of the attorneys at the family law department to understand what your alimony obligation or award could be.