Alimony is not an automatic part of every divorce case in New Jersey. Alimony, also known as spousal support, is not the same as equitable distribution. While equitable distribution is a look at what assets the parties acquired during the marriage and the division of these assets, alimony takes a forward look and is used in an attempt to balance out financial disparities in the parties’ economic circumstances. Where equitable distribution comes into play is that the Court’s work to avoid what is commonly known as “double dipping if a pension is divided during equitable distribution. The portion of other retirement assets divided as part of equitable distribution cannot then be used to calculate alimony.
There are several ways in which alimony can be awarded in a divorce case:
- Pendente Lite Support – This is temporary support awarded before the final judgment of divorce is entered. Support awarded at this time is provided with the goal of maintaining the status quo of the family lifestyle. In this way, the court can insure that the marital bills are paid. This award is not the same as child support. This award is more accurately titled support or spousal support as opposed to alimony. Alimony is taxable to the supported spouse but Pendente Lite Support is not taxable.
- Open Durational Alimony – This type of alimony is usually awarded in cases involving a long-term marriage where the earning capacity of the spouses is vastly different. Unless specifically agreed by and between the parties that permanent alimony is non-modifiable, this type alimony can be modified upon proof of a change in circumstances.
- Limited Duration Alimony – This type of alimony is probably the most common and is for a specific time period. Limited duration alimony is often awarded in a mid-length marriage and is also modifiable upon a showing of a change of circumstances.
- Rehabilitative Alimony – This type of alimony is also payable for a specific period of time. The goal of this alimony award is to provide support while the dependent spouse acquires either education and/or training that will allow them to gain employment to support themselves. This type of alimony does not terminate if the spouse gets remarried.
- Reimbursement Alimony – This type of alimony compensates a spouse for economic sacrifices that were made during the marriage and these sacrifices aided the paying spouse to increase their earning capacity. This type of alimony is seen in the case of one spouse helping the other through college or medical school. This type of alimony also does not end if the dependent spouse remarries.
- In marriages of less than 20 years in duration, alimony will not be able to exceed the length of the marriage absent exceptional circumstances.
If the parties are not able to agree, which type of alimony the dependent spouse is due, the Courts must consider the following fourteen factors per New Jersey’s alimony statute N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(B):
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay.
- The duration of the marriage or civil union
- The age, physical and emotional health of the parties.
- The standard of living established during the marriage or civil union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonable comparable standard of living with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other.
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties.
- The length of the absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance.
- Parental responsibilities for the children.
- The time and expense needed to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income..
- The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage or civil union by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities.
- The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent the consideration is reasonable, just and fair.
- The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party.
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment.
- The nature, amount, and length of pendent lite support paid, if any..
- Any other factors which the court deem relevant.
Because of the long-term obligation that alimony has the potential to create between divorcing spouses, it is very important that each spouse has the benefit of sound legal advice from a qualified New Jersey matrimonial law attorney. An attorney at Adinolfi and Lieberman, PA has the resources and experience to advocate for our clients from the simplest to most complex divorce cases. Contact our Haddonfield offices at 856-428-8334 to schedule a confidential consultation today.