Somerville Office

When Is Alimony Granted in a New Jersey Divorce?

Alimony – money paid from one spouse to the other – is not a given in a New Jersey divorce.

About 25% of divorces in the 1960s included alimony. Today, that percentage is closer to 10%. The decline is due in part to the expanded participation of women in the workforce. Consequently, men also ask for alimony. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1979 that statutes limiting alimony to one gender were unconstitutional.

Alimony can be granted in New Jersey so that one spouse is not more financially harmed than the other by the divorce. The other purpose is to maintain a similar lifestyle as they enjoyed during the marriage.

Types of Alimony in New Jersey

Alimony can be awarded as part of the dissolution of a marriage or civil union, including same sex. New Jersey does not recognize common-law marriage.

The court may award any of these four types of alimony to be received post-divorce:

  • Open Durational: Payments are typically only possible in marriages lasting 20 years or more and where the dependent spouse has little chance of becoming self-sufficient
  • Rehabilitative: Support provided to a dependent spouse while they acquire job training or education
  • Limited Duration: Support given to a spouse in marriages less than 20 years as they become self-sufficient (duration cannot exceed the length of the marriage)
  • Reimbursement: Payment(s) given to one spouse who financially supported the other spouse through advanced education during the marriage

A combination of alimony types may be awarded.

Pendente lite is temporary support provided to a spouse while the divorce is proceeding.

Factors that Influence Alimony Awards

Unlike neighboring New York, New Jersey does not have an official formula used by judges to determine alimony. Instead, the court will evaluate each party’s income against specific criteria. The gender of either party does not play a role in alimony decisions.

The Superior Court judge will consider the following factors in alimony decisions:

  • The actual need and ability of the parties to pay
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The ages of the parties
  • The physical and emotional health of the parties
  • The standard of living established in the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living
  • The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties
  • How long the party seeking maintenance has been absent from the job market
  • The parental responsibilities for the children
  • The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment
  • Each party’s history of financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage
  • The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution
  • The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party
  • The tax consequences to both parties of any alimony award
  • The nature, amount, and length of pendente lite support paid
  • Any other factors which the court may deem relevant

Legal Counsel for Negotiated or Litigated Alimony

Most divorces do not end up before a judge. The couple often negotiates or mediates the divorce terms, including any alimony. Either route, however, can be a harrowing experience without experienced, professional legal counsel.

At Lane & Lane, LLC, we strive to quickly and effectively resolve differences so both parties can move forward with their lives. Our 60 years of combined family law experience gives us insight into creative solutions that support the goals and best interests of our clients.

If you have questions about New Jersey alimony, contact our office online or call (908) 259-6673.