Many clients assume that the spouse who earns more must pay the spouse who earns less. Alimony is not mandatory, however, and the factors surrounding it are complex. We are knowledgeable in navigating and explaining the process. Your financial picture will be analyzed to determine whether you need active financial support for your daily life, to maintain your lifestyle after your divorce or whether or not you can afford to pay alimony and still maintain your lifestyle after divorce.
Alimony can be temporary or long-term. New Jersey recognizes the following distinctions:
- Temporary alimony is awarded to low-earning or unemployed spouses to help cover living expenses during divorce proceedings.
- Limited duration alimony may be awarded based on financial need until a spouse can become self-supporting.
- Open-durational alimony may be awarded after at least 20 years of marriage if one partner gave up career or education opportunities to care for the family, or to further a spouse’s education or career. The payer can ask for payments to end when he or she reaches the federal retirement age.
- For rehabilitative alimony, the requesting spouse must submit to the court the steps to be taken for rehabilitation and the anticipated time frame. Rehabilitative alimony is intended to help you get back on your feet and provide training and education so that you can be self-supporting.
- Reimbursement alimony compensates a spouse who supported the other through advanced education, and who expected to enjoy the fruits of that labor but was unable to because of the divorce or legal separation.
The court may award any combination of these orders. This means that if the court makes an order for rehabilitative spousal support, it can also order reimbursement alimony, as well as limited duration alimony.
To protect parties from being taken advantage of, many factors will play into the validity of a request for alimony. When determining the amount and duration of an award for alimony, the following will be considered:
- the requesting spouse’s actual needs and the other spouse’s ability to pay
- the length of the marriage
- each spouse’s age and physical and emotional health
- each spouse’s income, earning capacity, education level, and employability
- the standard of living during marriage
- parental responsibilities
- the time and expense necessary to obtain education or training for the dependent spouse to become self-supporting, and
- each spouse’s financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage.
For example, if one spouse is disabled and cannot work, or if there is a great disparity in earning abilities, there may be reason to petition for alimony. No matter what obstacles you are facing, your attorney will be in your corner to secure your future.