Getting a divorce is never easy. Couples in this situation are ending more than just a marriage; they are also ending a financial partnership. This partnership looks different in every relationship. In some cases, both partners were able to pursue their professional aspirations to the fullest and are now making fairly equal salaries. More commonly, one partner has given up a great deal in order to support the other's professional development. In these cases, alimony, also known as spousal support, may be available.
Those who are considering alimony can benefit from a basic understanding of how it works. Alimony, like most family law matters, is governed by state law. Those who find themselves considering spousal support, either on the receiving or paying end, generally have three questions:
- How is alimony determined?
- What types of alimony are there?
- How long does alimony last?
Having the answers to these three frequently asked questions can help you have an idea of how alimony could impact your divorce proceeding.
How is alimony determined?
Alimony may be granted in a number of situations. This can include situations where one spouse works and the other does not as well as those where one spouse makes significantly more than the other. If the court determines that spousal support is applicable, a number of factors are taken into consideration to determine the amount that is appropriate. This is generally designed to attempt to ensure both parties are able to live in a lifestyle similar to that enjoyed during the marriage.
What types of alimony are there?
New Jersey has four different types of alimony: open duration, limited duration, rehabilitative and reimbursement. Open duration is the replacement to what was once referred to as permanent alimony. Instead of awarding spousal support on a permanent basis, courts now award it for an open ended period of time depending on the other party's needs. In contrast, limited duration alimony is given for a set period of time. Rehabilitative alimony is used in situations where one partner could benefit from training or educational opportunities to return to the workforce. This award is designed to help fund that pursuit. Finally, reimbursement alimony is an award given as a way to repay one party that provided financial support to the other's education or training.
How long does alimony last?
As noted above, alimony is no longer given on a permanent basis. Those who would have qualified for the previously termed "permanent alimony" would now likely qualify for an open duration alimony agreement. Generally, the length of time that one can qualify to receive alimony payments cannot exceed the length of the marriage. There are some exceptions to this rule, including the health of a partner and whether or not a partner has given up a career or career opportunity to support the career of the partner.