The objective of alimony is the continuation of a standard of living enjoyed by the parties prior to the separation, and the obligation of the supporting spouse should be set at a level that would maintain that standard. Both parties are entitled to live a lifestyle that is as close as possible to the lifestyle they led during the marriage.
Types of Alimony
There are four types of alimony in New Jersey as set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b):
- Open Durational (without a fixed end date)
- Limited Duration (sometimes referred to as term alimony; has a fixed end date)
- Rehabilitative – Rehabilitative alimony is governed by N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(d) and can be awarded in addition to permanent alimony. It is typically awarded “where a short-term or lump-sum award from one party in a divorce will enable [the] former spouse to complete the preparation necessary for economic self-sufficiency.” Carter v. Carter, 318 N.J.Super. 34 (N.J. Super., 1999).
- Reimbursement – it is usually awarded by the Court to compensate a dependent spouse for economic sacrifices made during the course of the marriage.
In setting an award of alimony, the court is to consider the factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b), which are:
(1) The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
(2) The duration of the marriage or civil union;
(3) The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
(4) The standard of living established in the marriage or civil
union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably
comparable standard of living, with neither party having a greater
entitlement to that standard of living than the other;
(5) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills,
and employability of the parties;
(6) The length of absence from the job market of the party
(7) The parental responsibilities for the children;
(8) The time and expense necessary 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;
(9) 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;
(10) The equitable distribution of property ordered and any
payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of
current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just
(11) The income available to either party through investment of
any assets held by that party;
(12) 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;
(13) The nature, amount, and length of pendente lite support
paid, if any; and
(14) Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
“In each case where the court is asked to make an award of alimony, the court shall consider and assess evidence with respect to all relevant statutory factors. If the court determines that certain factors are more or less relevant than others, the court shall make specific written findings of fact and conclusions of law on the reasons why the court reached that conclusion. No factor shall be elevated in importance over any other factor unless the court finds otherwise, in which case the court shall make specific written findings of fact and conclusions of law in that regard.” N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b)
On September 11, 2014, Governor Christie signed the alimony reform bill, which can be read in its entirety here. This bill provided some clarification on alimony modification based on retirement, loss of employment, and cohabitation.
Given the complexities involved with Alimony, we advise you to contact one of our experienced family law attorneys at 908-735-5161 at Gebhardt & Kiefer today.