A brief summary of alimony in NJ

New Jersey’s Alimony Law: How It Works and What It Means for You

In New Jersey, alimony is a form of financial support that can be awarded in a divorce settlement. It is an important factor to consider when determining the outcome of a divorce. This blog post will provide an overview of New Jersey’s alimony law, how it works, and what it means for those considering or going through a divorce. We’ll discuss the various factors that courts consider when determining whether alimony should be awarded, the different types of alimony available, and how the new changes to the law may affect you.

The Current Law
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to the other during or after a divorce or legal separation. In New Jersey, alimony is designed to help the recipient spouse meet their financial needs while adjusting to life after divorce.
There are four different types of alimony that may be granted in New Jersey: temporary, limited duration, rehabilitative, and open durational. Temporary alimony is awarded when the divorce is still pending and can last up to the finalization of the divorce. Limited duration alimony is typically awarded when the marriage has lasted less than 20 years and payments will stop when either spouse dies or when the receiving spouse remarries. Rehabilitative alimony is intended to provide support to the receiving spouse while they gain skills and qualifications to become financially independent. Finally, open durational (fomerly known as permanent alimony) is for longer-term support for a spouse who cannot become financially independent due to age, illness, or disability.
The amount and duration of alimony in New Jersey is determined by several factors including the need and income of both spouses, the standard of living during marriage, the duration of the marriage, the marital contributions of both spouses, and any other factors that may be deemed relevant by the court. In New Jersey, alimony is based on the concept of equitable distribution which means the amount of alimony should be fair and equitable for both spouses.
In summary, alimony in New Jersey provides financial support to a spouse who needs it during or after a divorce. Alimony can be temporary, limited duration, rehabilitative, or n durational and the amount and duration are determined by various factors such as need and income of both spouses, length of marriage, and marital contributions. Alimony is intended to be fair and equitable for both parties and should help the receiving spouse adjust to life after divorce.

Who Qualifies for Alimony?
In New Jersey, alimony is available to spouses who are no longer living together and are separated or divorced. To be eligible, the spouse seeking alimony must be financially dependent on the other spouse. This could include if the dependent spouse is unable to support themselves due to a physical or mental disability, has given up a career to care for children or home, or has made substantially less income than their partner. The court also takes into account the length of the marriage and both spouses’ earning potential when deciding whether alimony is appropriate. The court may also consider other factors, such as the lifestyle of the couple while they were together, before making a decision.

How Long Does Alimony Last?
In New Jersey, alimony is generally awarded for a predetermined period of time, depending on the circumstances of the case. There are different types of alimony available and each type has its own duration.
Rehabilitative Alimony: This form of alimony is usually temporary, intended to help the receiving party become self-sufficient by supporting them while they pursue education or training. The length of rehabilitative alimony can vary widely depending on the amount of time needed to complete the recipient’s educational or training goals.
Limited Duration Alimony: This type of alimony is also typically temporary and lasts for a specified period of time. The court will determine the amount and length of payments based on the couple’s circumstances.
Permanent Alimony: Permanent alimony is the longest lasting type of alimony and is usually awarded when there is a long-term marriage where one spouse is not capable of becoming self-sufficient. In New Jersey, this type of alimony does not have a predetermined end date and instead continues until either spouse dies or until the receiving spouse remarries.
Reimbursement Alimony: This form of alimony is used to reimburse one party for expenses related to the other’s career such as tuition or other costs. It typically lasts only as long as the payments necessary to reimburse the paying party.
Lump Sum Alimony: This form of alimony is a one-time payment that is made in order to compensate one spouse for financial losses during the marriage. It does not last beyond the payment and is generally used in cases where permanent alimony would not be appropriate.
In New Jersey, the court will take into consideration factors such as the length of the marriage, financial need, earning capacity and standard of living when determining how long alimony should last. Each case is unique, so it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can provide guidance and advice throughout the process.

How Is Alimony Paid?
Alimony payments in New Jersey are typically paid on a monthly basis. The payment amount and the length of time for which alimony is paid depend on the financial situation of both parties and the specific terms of the agreement. Generally, the paying party is responsible for making direct payments to the receiving party, either through cash payments or money orders.
In some cases, the court may order payments to be made through wage garnishment, in which a portion of the paying party’s wages are sent directly to the receiving party before they are paid out to the paying party. The amount of wage garnishment depends on the financial situation of the paying party and the court’s orders. In New Jersey, an employer must garnish up to 25% of an employee’s disposable earnings, though this amount can be reduced if the employee is supporting another family.
Another payment method used in New Jersey is through the Office of Child Support Services (OCSS). Under this arrangement, OCSS will make the payments on behalf of the paying party to the receiving party. This method is typically used when one or both parties are having difficulty making regular payments or are unable to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement.
Finally, in certain situations, it may be possible for the paying party to make payments in other forms, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, or other assets. These arrangements must be approved by the court and are usually determined on a case-by-case basis.
No matter which payment method is used, alimony is a legally binding obligation that must be met by both parties in order for it to remain valid and enforceable.

What Happens if There is a Change in Circumstances?
In New Jersey, alimony may be modified if there is a change in the financial circumstances of either party. This could include either party losing their job or experiencing an increase or decrease in their income. The court will evaluate both parties’ incomes to determine whether there has been a significant change that would warrant a modification to the alimony order. If it is determined that a change in circumstances has occurred, the court may modify the amount of alimony that is being paid or suspend it altogether. It is important to note that a modification or suspension of alimony will not be retroactive and will only apply to payments made after the date of the modification. In New Jersey, it is the responsibility of the party requesting the modification to prove that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. Furthermore, New Jersey courts must consider all relevant factors when deciding whether or not to grant a modification. These factors can include but are not limited to the age and health of each spouse, each spouse’s current standard of living, each spouse’s earning capacity, each spouse’s current assets, each spouse’s education level, as well as any other relevant factors deemed by the court as appropriate. Generally speaking, if one spouse’s financial situation improves significantly while the other spouse remains stagnant financially then a court may grant a reduction in alimony payments. Similarly, if one spouse experiences a decline in income then they may be eligible for an increase in alimony payments. Ultimately, it is up to the discretion of New Jersey family courts to decide whether or not to modify an existing alimony agreement based on any changes in circumstance.

About Sandy Durst

Sandy Durst, Esq., is the founding partner of The Durst Firm where he heads the Family Law Department. Individuals facing a divorce benefit from the combination of legal skill, common sense and compassion that Sandy brings to each and every matter. Each case is given the personalized attention it deserves.
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