Spousal support, commonly referred to as alimony or maintenance, is often the most difficult issue to be resolved in a divorce because it deals directly with the ongoing lifestyles of both parties. Alimony is payment made by one party to the other after the divorce, either by court order or by mutual agreement. In the state of New Jersey, there are four types of spousal support / alimony:
- Permanent alimony is an allowance for support and maintenance (such as food, clothing, housing, and other necessities) of a spouse. When a person requests permanent alimony, they must establish that they have a need for support and that their spouse has sufficient means and ability to provide for part or all of that need. As its name indicates, permanent alimony is permanent in nature and remains in effect indefinitely or until a change in circumstances warrants a review of the situation. For example, remarriage of the payee spouse will terminate the payor spouse's alimony obligation.
- Reimbursement alimony may be 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.
- Rehabilitative alimony is designed to provide the means necessary to enable a spouse to refresh or enhance job skills necessary to become self-sufficient by providing financial support while the spouse is obtaining necessary training. This is perhaps the most common form of alimony and is also temporary in nature.
- Limited duration alimony is alimony awarded for a set period of time. Limited duration alimony can be modified based upon a change in circumstances. However, a court can only modify the amount of the limited duration alimony award. It cannot modify the length of the term except in unusual circumstances. As with permanent alimony, remarriage of the payee spouse will terminate the payor spouse's alimony obligation.
In New Jersey, there are 13 elements that are considered by family courts when considering whether to grant alimony. They are:
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age, physical, and emotional health of the parties.
- The standard of living established during the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonable comparable standard of living.
- The parties' earning capability, education, and employability.
- The length of absence from the job market.
- Parental responsibilities for the children.
- The time and expense needed to acquire education or training to enable a dependent spouse to obtain appropriate employment.
- The financial and non-financial contributions of each spouse to the marriage.
- Equitable distribution.
- Income available and non-financial contributions of each spouse to the marriage.
- The tax consequences of alimony.
- Any other factor which the court deems relevant.
Divorce can be a long and trying process. It helps to have the guidance and knowledge of a seasoned attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. If spousal support matters have you concerned about your financial future, contact The Law Offices of Brian D. Iton today. Together, we will analyze your situation, discuss your options, and begin planning a strategy aimed at placing you in the strongest possible position.