Understanding and Calculating Alimony in New Jersey
During and after divorce, one spouse may need financial support from the other—this type of financial support is known as alimony. This support allows for the supported spouse to maintain a lifestyle as close as possible to what the couple had during their marriage, at least until that spouse is able to become self-supporting.
Types of Alimony
New Jersey recognizes five types of alimony: temporary alimony, limited duration alimony, permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony, and reimbursement alimony.
- Temporary alimony (alimony pendente lite) is awarded to low-earning or unemployed spouses to help cover living expenses during divorce proceedings.
- A judge may award you limited duration alimony, based on financial need, for as long as it takes you to become self-supporting.
- You may be entitled to permanent alimony after a long marriage if you gave up career or education opportunities in order to care for your family, or to further your spouse’s education or career. If you ask for permanent alimony, the court will examine the factors listed below to determine if you qualify, and then will determine if any of the other support orders are appropriate in addition to the permanent order.
- For rehabilitative alimony, the requesting spouse must submit to the court the steps to be taken for rehabilitation, the time frame, and a period of employment to occur during the rehabilitation period. Rehabilitative alimony is intended to help you get back on your feet and provide training and education so that you can be self-supporting.
- Reimbursement alimony compensates a spouse who supported the other spouse through advanced education, and who expected to enjoy the fruits of that labor, but was not able to because of the divorce or legal separation.
The court may award any combination of these orders. This means that if the court makes an order for rehabilitative spousal support, it can also order reimbursement alimony, as well as limited duration alimony.
Alimony Awards - Factors
When determining the amount and duration of an award for alimony, the judge will look at several different factors, including:
- the requesting spouse’s actual needs and the other spouse’s ability to pay
- the duration of the marriage
- each spouse’s age and physical and emotional health
- each spouse's income, earning capacity, education level, and employability
- the standard of living during marriage
- parental responsibilities
- the time and expense necessary to obtain education or training for the dependent spouse to become self-supporting, and
- each spouse’s financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage.
There are no specific alimony calculators or guidelines for support in New Jersey; the court will make a decision based on the factors listed above.
Alimony Modification and Termination
A judge may modify limited duration alimony and rehabilitative alimony orders if there is a change in circumstances. If the court made an order based on an event that it assumed would occur, but the event did not occur, then it may modify the order—for example, if the supported spouse was not able to be rehabilitated within the expected time, or was not able to find a job to become self-supporting, the court can change the initial order.
If the recipient spouse remarries or enters into a New Jersey civil union, the other spouse must be informed and alimony payments can be stopped. (However, the supporting spouse must pay any arrearages (late payments) that have accumulated.) Remarriage only terminates limited duration and permanent alimony. Rehabilitative and reimbursement alimony will continue even if the dependent spouse remarries or enters into a civil union, unless the judge orders otherwise. The death of either spouse will terminate all forms of alimony.
Tax Implications of Alimony
Any payments of alimony are tax deductible to the paying spouse and reportable as income by the receiving spouse.
If a spouse can show financial need, the court may order the other spouse to pay for attorneys' fees.
New Jersey Statutes
2A:34-25: Termination of Alimony
2A:34-23: Alimony, maintenance