Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.

Spousal support provides rehabilitative opportunity after divorce

Alimony tends to be a hotly-contested topic during divorce proceedings. Whether one party wants larger monthly payments or another believes that he or she should not have to make the payments in the first place, there is usually plenty to talk about. However, before drawing any hard lines in the sand, couples in New Jersey should be certain that they understand what spousal support is, and perhaps just as important, what it is not.

While many couples have two partners who work outside the home, it is not uncommon for one person to earn more than the other. There are also many individuals who elect to stay at home due to financial security, to care for children or to handle other familial duties. These decisions or differences in wages might not pose any type of financial insecurity during marriage, but can create an unfair economic effect after divorce.

For the most part, family law judges have fairly broad discretion when it comes to deciding who gets spousal support, how much and for how long. Many different factors must be considered before a decision can be made, including how long the couple was married, what their standard of living was and how long it would take one partner to obtain training or education in order to become financially self-sufficient. The latter two factors are not necessarily easy to address, but influence not only how much alimony one partner is ordered to pay, but how long he or she is expected to do so.

TV shows and movies often depict spousal support in a negative light, but it is an important rehabilitative aspect of divorce for many people in New Jersey. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a permanent payment, although the party tasked with paying alimony must continue to do so until the date specified on the court order. However, life is far from stagnant, and certain events can require a change to payments. When this occurs, the court can be petitioned to take these changing factors into account before issuing a modification to the order.

Source: FindLaw, "Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics", Oct. 19, 2016

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