Types of Alimony

Divorce Attorney Serving Bergen County and Surrounding Areas

If you are in the midst of a divorce, one of the more complicated issues that you may need to address is alimony. Alimony (often called “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance”) is an allowance of money that one spouse must pay to the other spouse following a separation or divorce. If you need guidance or representation in this type of matter, Bergen County alimony lawyer Brian D. Iton can assist you. He will take the time to explore the details of your situation and vigorously advocate for your interests.

Categories of Alimony Available Under New Jersey Law

Historically, alimony awards requiring one ex-spouse to support the other for the rest of their lives were common. As social structures have changed, however, laws have also changed, and many reforms have been made to New Jersey’s divorce laws over the past few decades that have made alimony a considerably more nuanced matter.

As recently as 2014, major changes were made to the rules governing alimony. The new laws address when alimony should be awarded, how alimony should be determined, the duration of payments, and how alimony may be terminated or modified.

Today, New Jersey recognizes four types of alimony. First, open durational alimony has replaced “permanent” alimony under state law. While the current law does not strictly preclude alimony payments for the duration of an ex-spouse’s life, the term “open durational” suggests more directly a court’s broader discretion to terminate or modify alimony payments when circumstances warrant. Generally speaking, it is now easier than it was before for a paying spouse to obtain a termination or modification of open durational alimony.

Second, rehabilitative alimony is when a court grants to one of the spouses a fixed period of support during which that spouse is expected to seek or regain earning capacity through additional schooling, training, or work experience. At the end of this period, the ex-spouse is expected to be financially self-sufficient.

Somewhat similarly, limited duration alimony is awarded for a set length of time. Under New Jersey law, if a marriage has lasted less than 20 years, the term for an award of alimony cannot last longer than the length of the marriage. Consequently, limited duration alimony is fairly common, particularly in cases in which one spouse has significantly out-earned the other spouse during the marriage. Limited duration alimony allows the lower-earning spouse to maintain a standard of living commensurate with what he or she enjoyed during the marriage. While the amount may be modified based upon a change in circumstances, the court may not modify the duration of the term.

Finally, reimbursement alimony is awarded in situations in which one spouse supported the other during that spouse’s advanced schooling or training, such as in law, business, or medicine, with the expectation that they would both benefit financially from the enhanced earning capacity provided by the education. If the couple divorces before the supporting spouse has “recouped” his or her investment in the other spouse’s education, the court can award reimbursement alimony to compensate that spouse for the support given. Once it is awarded, a court has no discretion to reduce the amount of reimbursement alimony.

Although they are distinct in purpose, these four types of alimony are not mutually exclusive. In other words, depending on the circumstances, a court can award more than one type of alimony.

It is also useful to know that there are no formulas that dictate specifically when each type of alimony is appropriate, or the amount, duration, and structure of payments. Instead, while courts must consider a number of statutory factors in making alimony determinations, courts have a significant amount of discretion within those parameters.

Explore Your Options with an Alimony Lawyer in Bergen County

The application of New Jersey laws on alimony can be unpredictable. To enlist an experienced family law lawyer to advise you regarding your own unique situation, contact Bergen County alimony attorney Brian D. Iton. You can call us at (201) 731-3086 or toll-free at (844) 431-3380, or you can use our online form to set up a free consultation. Brian D. Iton proudly represents people in Hackensack, Paterson, Jersey City, Newark, and other cities throughout Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, and Essex Counties.