Alimony is financial support made to a spouse during and after a divorce. Under state law, spouses have a duty to financially support each other, and alimony acknowledges that this duty can continue even after a divorce or legal separation. It is separate from any child support payments that are made due to the nature of the custody agreement.
How Do You Qualify for Alimony?
Alimony is awarded on a case-by-case basis in New Jersey, and there is not a set formula used to calculate awards. Instead, the courts evaluate a series of factors:
- Your financial need and your spouse’s ability to pay support,
- Each spouse’s age and health,
- The length of your marriage,
- Your standard of living while married,
- Each spouse’s earning capacity, education, skills, and employability,
- How long you have been out of the job market,
- Each spouse’s childcare responsibilities,
- The time and cost of education and training you need to find work,
- Your contribution to the marriage (including household responsibilities and child care),
- Each spouse’s financial resources, including joint and separate property, and
- Any other relevant factors in your case.
Alimony is available to couples who divorce, legally separate, or annul a marriage or civil union in New Jersey.
How Much Alimony Can You Receive in New Jersey?
New Jersey does not have a limit or cap on alimony. Instead, the courts must weigh the factors discussed above and determine how much support is appropriate. Under certain circumstances, alimony awards can be millions of dollars (but are typically more modest). However, as seen from above the court decides the amount of alimony based on many factors which will include the paying spouse’s ability to pay alimony and support themselves.
How Long Does Alimony Last in New Jersey?
The state’s alimony laws were significantly changed in 2014. Currently, there are five types of alimony in New Jersey:
- Temporary (or “pendente lite”): paid while a divorce is pending,
- Open duration: ongoing alimony, typically awarded in long-term marriages (20 years or more),
- Limited duration: alimony for a set period of time, which cannot exceed the length of the marriage,
- Rehabilitative: paid while you receive additional education or job training pursuant to a rehabilitation plan, and
- Reimbursement: paid when you financially supported your spouse while he or she pursued an advanced degree (and expected to benefit from this additional training).
In 2014, the State did away with “permanent” alimony. (Typically, ongoing alimony is paid until the couple reaches retirement age.)
How Do You Petition for Alimony?
If you plan on requesting alimony, consider hiring a lawyer before you file for divorce. New Jersey does not have a standardized form for alimony requests, so each motion must be drafted from scratch. It also can be difficult for the average person to calculate and negotiate alimony awards.
Additionally, an increasing number of couples are resolving alimony issues in a marital settlement agreement. If you and your spouse can agree to a fair alimony amount, you can resolve this issue without the court’s involvement. Again, a lawyer can help you with these negotiations.
Finally, you can petition to have an alimony award modified under certain circumstances. Typically, you must show a substantial change in circumstances that merits a change in alimony payments. For example, alimony may be reduced or terminated if your ex-spouse is cohabitating with someone who provides significant financial support.
Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?
Petitioning or modifying an alimony award can be contentious and complicated. A New Jersey family lawyer can help you file a motion with the court, calculate a fair alimony award, and negotiate with your spouse.