Alimony, often also referred to as “spousal support," is awarded in divorce actions to enable a former spouse who was supported during the marriage to maintain the standard of living that he or she had become accustomed to during the marriage. It is a legal right arising out of the marital relationship.
New Jersey law identifies the common situations that justify alimony payments and addresses them with the following four types of alimony:
Open durational alimony is typically reserved for marriages that last for at least twenty years. Providing recipients have valid reasons why they cannot financially support themselves, payments will continue.
However, alimony ends at the obligor’s retirement age, as defined by the Social Security Administration. This form of alimony can continue until there is a change in circumstances warranting a modification or termination of the obligation.
Changes in circumstances can justify a change in alimony terms, via a mutual agreement or by a judge. This is the legislature’s replacement for” permanent alimony”, with the new term providing a more precise meaning.
Rather than implying that alimony must be paid for a lifetime, this term leaves the length of payment open based on the needs of the recipient.
Rehabilitative alimony provides relatively short-term assistance to help pay for the training or education needed to earn a reasonable income in the future.
There are many reasons why both spouses may not share equal earnings capacity during their marriage. For example, one party may have held off on continuing education to care for the family, or he or she may have come to the marriage with less training than the other.
This type of alimony typically applies when divorce ends a short-term marriage. Particularly when the recipient is young and has good employment prospects for the near future, the courts may provide alimony over a relatively short period.
It is not uncommon for one spouse to support the family while the other seeks an advanced education. In fact, that spouse may have paid for all or part of tuition, expecting that the support and payments would provide the family with a better future lifestyle.
In the event of divorce, reimbursement alimony requires the person who benefitted from that investment to repay it. A specific monetary amount is defined in the divorce decree and reimbursement alimony payments end once the entire sum is repaid. Unlike child support, there are no specific alimony calculators or guidelines to determine the amount or duration of alimony.
A Denville alimony lawyer at Riordan Family Law can, however, assist you in determining a fair alimony result based on many years of experience and knowledge of the latest developments in the law. Contact us at (973) 577-4118.
Since alimony merely defines the present obligation of the former spouse, an alimony award is always subject to review and modification upon a showing of a permanent change in circumstances.
The party seeking modification must demonstrate that changed circumstances have resulted in the paying spouse’s ability to support themselves at a level similar to what was enjoyed during the marriage. While a modification of alimony is most often for a decrease, it may also be for an increase in certain circumstances.
Moreover, a decrease can also be triggered by a change in the payee’s situation, such as more lucrative employment or an inheritance.
Upon reviewing an application for a modification of alimony, a court will examine the paying spouse’s current financial situation if relevant to the inquiry, and make a determination as to whether the change of circumstance is:
At first glance, it might appear that the New Jersey alimony laws might place unreasonable limitations on the ability of an individual to maintain reasonable living standards over the short- or long-term following divorce. However, this is not the case.
With the help of a skilled alimony lawyer, it is possible to combine more than one type of alimony in a divorce settlement. For example, the courts may grant reimbursement alimony to one party while also granting rehabilitative or even open durational alimony to provide that party with the funds needed to enhance their skills for employment.
Additionally, there is no law that states that the parties of divorce cannot negotiate their own alimony terms, even if they do not strictly follow the definitions within the law.
If you have been awarded alimony upon divorcing your spouse, one of the first things you can do to help ensure continuity of payment is to request that payments be made through the Probation Division (“probation”). Payment of support through probation has the advantage of providing you with online access to view your account, including an ongoing record of payments, arrears, and disbursements. More importantly, you will have the power of law enforcement in your corner to implement enforcement measures, such as:
If your support is not payable through probation, and your former spouse stops paying, you must then file a motion for enforcement of the order for support. In your motion for enforcement, you should request that the obligor bring all payments current and that all future support payments be made through the Probation Division. If you decide to hire an attorney to file the enforcement application, your attorney will also request that you be reimbursed for your attorney’s fees.
Various remedies are available to a judge addressing a violation of alimony orders.
At Riordan Family Law, the nuances of an appropriate level of alimony are quite familiar to our attorneys. Our experience will guide you in determining whether there are grounds to suspend, modify, or even terminate alimony based on new circumstances.
Receive additional information about your case when you contact Riordan Family Law at (973) 577-4118. Our New Jersey alimony lawyers can arrange a private consultation for you with a trusted and knowledgeable attorney.