Alimony/Spousal Support in New Jersey

New Jersey law specifies several factors a Court must consider in order to rule on this issue, such as the parties’ incomes and assets, their ages, the length of the marriage, etc. Those factors can be found at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/PL14/42_.PDF. Essentially, as told to Pamela Copeland by a now-retired judge, it boils down to these magic words: Coverture-Acquired Economic Dependence. In plain English, this means that if one party was economically dependent on the other during the marriage, the dependent spouse likely is entitled to receive alimony. The issue then becomes what type of alimony.

 

What are the different types of alimony in New Jersey?

New Jersey law has developed over the years to recognize the myriad of life choices that a now-divorcing couple made while still married.

  • Limited duration alimony was enacted to deal with marriages of relatively short duration, recognizing that the recipient isn’t necessarily entitled to a lifetime of support, but shouldn’t be left with nothing post-divorce.
  • Rehabilitative alimony is similar, but covers situations where the recipient requires training in order to re-enter the work force.
  • Reimbursement alimony can be appropriate where one spouse supported the other while s/he was getting advanced training or attending graduate school to become a doctor or lawyer, for example, but would not otherwise be able to enjoy the fruits of those labors if divorced soon after graduation.

What about permanent alimony?

The alimony law in effect in New Jersey since last year (see above link) abolished what was left of permanent alimony, replacing it with “open durational” alimony. It states further, “For any marriage or civil union less than 20 years in duration, the total duration of alimony shall not, except in exceptional circumstances, exceed the length of the marriage or civil union”. The new law also specifies the factors to be considered when there are cohabitation and retirement issues.

Notably, a Court can order any of these types of alimony “separately or in any combination, as warranted by the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case.” However, a Court cannot award alimony to a party convicted of murder or similar crimes, and its authority is not limited “to deny alimony for other bad acts.”

As with most issues, even in a “simple” divorce, resolution of alimony issues requires thoughtful and knowledgeable analysis of the parties’ personal and financial circumstances. We bring decades of practice and continuing education to these issues to ensure a fair result.