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Determining alimony payments in New Jersey

During divorce proceedings, a judge may award alimony payments to one spouse. These payments are paid by the higher-earning spouse to help supplement the lower-earning spouse's post-divorce income.

There are several types of alimony that may be awarded in New Jersey. The two primary forms of alimony are open-durational and rehabilitative.

Open-durational alimony is relatively new. In 2014, the New Jersey legislature passed reform that created open-durational alimony, effectively replacing permanent alimony. The duration of permanent could be pretty broad, although it was rarely seen to apply for the duration of a spouse's life. If a couple is married for fewer than 20 years, alimony payments will be determined based on the length of the marriage. 

Open-durational alimony provides clearer guidelines for couples that have been married for at least 20 years. In these instances, payments must typically be made until the receiving spouse reaches full retirement age. Full retirement age varies based on your birth year. For most people, their full retirement age will be 67.

Rehabilitative alimony is paid to a spouse that needs assistance re-entering the workforce. This type of alimony is usually paid for a shorter period of time. Once the receiving spouse can support themselves, a judge may terminate the payments.

The courts look at many different factors when determining whether to award alimony. Some of the criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • Financial need of the recipient spouse
  • Ability of a spouse to pay the benefits
  • Vocational skills and employability of both spouses
  • Education levels and future earnings capacity of both spouses
  • Determining what payments were made during the equitable distribution of the couple's assets

These five factors are just a small piece of the overall picture a judge looks at when awarding alimony. Because there are so many things considered, the amount of alimony awarded can vary significantly from couple to couple.

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