New Jersey family law allows judges to order alimony in divorce cases. While alimony is permitted, it is not guaranteed. Furthermore, the “Alimony Bill” signed into law in 2014 significantly changed how alimony is granted in New Jersey. Continue reading this blog post to learn more about how alimony works in the state, including how long payments might last.
What Is Alimony?
Alimony is financial assistance paid to a spouse from the other spouse when a marriage ends. The court can grant temporary alimony to be paid while the divorce is pending. The judge may continue, terminate, or modify alimony payments at the final hearing.
The courts use numerous factors to determine whether to award alimony. Factors judges consider in alimony cases include:
- The needs of the spouse who is to receive alimony
- The financial status and the income of the spouse who is to pay alimony
- The length of the marriage
- The number of children the couple has and their ages
- Which parent will be the primary caretaker for the couple’s children
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The amount of time the spouse who has requested alimony spent away from the workforce
- The education and skills of both spouses
- The property and resources of each spouse
In addition to the above, the Alimony Bill requires judges to consider additional factors. Judges must consider the ages of the parties when they were married and when the marriage ended. They must also consider the need for separate homes and any health problems of either spouse.
What Types of Alimony Can a Spouse Receive in New Jersey?
The courts can award permanent alimony, which is called open durational alimony in New Jersey. Open durational alimony continues until a spouse dies or the court terminates the obligation. However, a judge may order another type of alimony based on the facts of the case.
For example, a judge could order rehabilitative alimony. This type of alimony is intended to help a spouse prepare to become self-sufficient. It may be paid while a spouse attends school, gains experience in the workplace, or acquires the skills to get a job.
Limited duration alimony is ordered for a definite period of time, usually enough time to allow the spouse to become self-supporting.
Reimbursement alimony is sometimes granted to reimburse a spouse for their financial contributions to the other spouse’s education or career advancement.
The last type of alimony that may be awarded is called temporary alimony, which is support granted while the divorce proceeds are pending.
How Long Does Alimony Continue in New Jersey?
Courts generally cannot award alimony payments for more than the length of the marriage if the marriage lasted for less than 20 years. Therefore, if you were married for five years, the maximum length of alimony is five years. Generally, judges award alimony for one-half the time of the marriage if the parties were married for ten years or longer.
The law gives judges the discretion to award alimony for longer periods under exceptional circumstances. Examples of exceptional circumstances include, but are not limited to:
- Whether a spouse has an unusual health condition or a chronic illness
- The ages of the parties
- Whether a spouse received a much larger share of the marital assets
- The duration and degree of the dependency of one spouse on the other spouse
- The impact of the marriage on a spouse’s ability to support themselves, including becoming the primary caregiver for the children
- Whether a spouse supported the career of the other spouse, including giving up their own career in favor of the spouse’s career
- The tax consequences of an alimony award
Spouses can agree to extend alimony beyond what the law would allow as the duration of alimony payments. A pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement could also impact how long alimony payments last in New Jersey.
Can Alimony Be Terminated or Modified in New Jersey?
Alimony payments may be terminated or modified when the payer reaches full retirement age. Additionally, a judge can terminate alimony if a spouse engages in a long-term, intimate, marital-like relationship with another person. Judges cannot reject the petition of the paying spouse solely because their ex-spouse and their new partner are not living together on a full-time basis.
Either party can petition the court for a modification of alimony payments. If your income changes, discuss your legal options with a Monmouth County alimony lawyer.
Stopping alimony payments without a court order could have serious legal consequences. However, if there is a significant change in your income, the court may modify alimony payments. Alimony can be a complicated issue in a divorce case. Seeking legal advice from an experienced Monmouth County divorce lawyer is the best way to protect your rights regarding alimony and other divorce matters.
Contact an Experienced Monmouth County Spousal Support Attorney at The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC for Legal Advice
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm in Red Bank. NJ at (732) 747-1882 or contact us online today.
You can also visit our law firm at 157 Broad St #111, Red Bank, NJ 07701.