Nobody enters a marriage expecting a divorce, but unfortunately, around 40% of all marriages in the US end in one. Processing a divorce can be difficult. Not only do divorces often bring significant emotional turmoil to all parties involved, but they're also complicated legal procedures. Understanding different aspects of divorce, such as alimony, can help all parties in a divorce reach a mutually beneficial arrangement. If you're a New Jersey resident wondering how alimony works in a divorce, you've come to the right place.
What Is Alimony, Anyways?
Alimony (sometimes called "spousal support") refers to the court-ordered provision of financial support from one spouse to another during a divorce. Alimony laws often change on a state-by-state and case-by-case basis.
Are There Different Kinds of Alimony?
According to New Jersey alimony law, there are five types of alimony:
- Pedante lite (Latin for "during litigation") alimony. If a spouse is financially dependent on their partner and requires financial support during the divorce, they can file for Pedante lite alimony. If awarded, the spouse paying Pedante lite alimony will financially support their partner for the duration of the divorce litigation.
- Limited duration alimony. If one of the parties in a divorce needs time post-divorce to become financially independent, they can file for limited duration alimony. Typically, limited duration alimony involves specific goals the alimony recipient must meet to continue receiving alimony.
- Rehabilitative alimony. If one party in the divorce needs job training or education that leads to financial independence, they can request rehabilitative alimony. Rehabilitative alimony agreements generally require both parties to agree to a timeframe in which the training or education must occur. Rehabilitative alimony usually only lasts as long as the pre-established time frame, even if training or education for the alimony recipient takes longer than expected.
- Reimbursement alimony. If one spouse financially supported their partner during training or education that was expected to benefit both spouses, and divorce is filed before that expected financial benefit is realized, the supporting spouse can request reimbursement alimony. For example, if a spouse supports their partner during medical school, and divorce is filed before that spouse benefits from their partner’s medical school training, the supporting spouse can request reimbursement alimony.
- Permanent alimony. If an individual in a divorce cannot support themself financially now or in the future, the other party may have to pay permanent alimony. Permanent alimony is rarely awarded to divorcees by judges without substantial evidence in favor of the prospective alimony recipient.
Courts determine the duration, amount, and method of alimony payments on a case-by-case basis. Some New Jersey alimony payments require a one-time lump sum, while others may require several payments distributed over months or years.
What Decides if You Get Alimony?
Per New Jersey Administration of Civil and Criminal Justice legislation, Section 2A:34-23, 14 factors play into alimony decisions:
- "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, with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other;
- 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;
- The nature, amount, and length of pendente lite support paid, if any; and
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant."
It's important to note that, as of 2018, New Jersey alimony payments are no longer considered federal taxable income (in other words, alimony is no longer tax deductible). For some alimony payers, that may be grounds for alimony modification negotiations with a knowledgeable family law attorney.
Get Legal Advice from an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today
Here at William Kirby Family Law, we understand that divorce is a complicated process. Our compassionate, experienced attorney can provide you with the legal support you need to reach a beneficial divorce arrangement.
To get started, contact our law office at (215) 515-9901 to arrange a consultation.