The end of a marriage always spells big changes for both spouses. Both parties can expect changes in terms of emotional, physical, and financial factors. Divorce often poses an especially difficult financial burden to the spouse who makes less income, especially if that spouse has traditionally been the stay at home parent or supported the other spouse through school. The answer to some financial difficulties for the financially disadvantaged spouse can be to request an award of spousal support from the divorce court. There is a list of factors considered by New Jersey courts when determining whether an award of spousal support is appropriate in a case. Beyond that, however, there are several different types of alimony in New Jersey, and it is important that the requesting spouse has a good understanding of the different types.
Firstly, be mindful that while the divorce is pending, the supported spouse generally is entitled to receive "pendente lite" support. This translates roughly to "pending the litigation." This type of support is the type that is awarded after the complaint for divorce is filed but before the final decree is entered. A pendente lite support award is used to help the parties maintain the status quo for their financial arrangement that existed during the marriage. Pendente lite support is often a combination of alimony and child support, but it can consist entirely of spousal support.
The first type of alimony is called "open durational alimony." This used to be called permanent alimony before the New Jersey alimony laws changed in 2014. In addition to changing the name, the 2014 statute changes also modified the eligibility to receive it. Open durational alimony is only available in marriages of 20 years or more, unless there are exceptional circumstances. There is also a presumption created by the statute for open durational alimony to terminate automatically when the paying spouse retires, unless the receiving spouse can show why it should continue. In order to request this type of alimony, therefore, your marriage must be a long one and you must need the continued support of your spouse for an indeterminate amount of time.
The next type is called limited duration alimony. Unlike open durational alimony, it will have an end date that is already set by the court. An award of limited duration alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage.
Rehabilitative alimony is the next type. It is intended to help the receiving spouse "rehabilitate" his or her earning capacity. The receiving spouse in these situations is typically going back to school to earn a degree.
This is a brief overview of the main alimony categories and who may be best suited to request these types. We have experience helping our clients determine the best strategy for their divorce. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 for a consultation.