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Exploring the Different Kinds of New Jersey Alimony


It doesn’t come up in every separation, but alimony, also known as spousal support, is often one of the most contested issues in East Brunswick divorces. What many people don’t realize is that New Jersey law actually allows for several different types of alimony.

Determining the type of alimony that applies in your case can be more complicated than you think, with dozens of factors to consider. Sometimes, more than one type of spousal support may be appropriate. A lawyer with extensive experience in handling New Jersey alimony cases can help you sort through the details and protect your financial future.

The factors family courts will weigh in a request for alimony are spelled out in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b). Changes made to the statute six years ago set some durational limits on how long alimony can be paid. The statute also laid out additional restrictions for deviation from those limits and more carefully spelled out the legal grounds on which alimony can be modified or terminated.

Pendente Lite Alimony in New Jersey

One type of alimony New Jersey courts can award is something called pendete lite alimony, sometimes referred to as temporary alimony. This is a type of alimony intended to allow the spouse being paid to maintain the financial status quo that existed prior to separation, at least until the divorce is final. Unlike with longer term alimony awards, courts imposing pendete lite alimony do not weigh a long litany of factors such as the future earning ability of each spouse or the impact of property distribution. It’s meant instead to be a temporary solution, in place during separation and terminating upon finalization of the divorce. Pendete lite alimony can be replaced with some other type of alimony or spousal support if the court decides to do so.

Open Durational Alimony in New Jersey

In years past, New Jersey divorcees could be awarded/ordered to pay something referred to in statute as “permanent alimony.” This type of alimony award allowed spousal award payments to continue indefinitely. Over the last 20 years, there was a notable shift away from permanent alimony, with family courts generally only inclined to award in cases of long-term marriage where the spouse was unlikely to ever become fully self-supporting. In 2014, state lawmakers nixed the term “permanent” from the statute altogether, replacing it with “open durational alimony.” Similar to permanent alimony, open durational alimony doesn’t have a fixed expiration. The main difference is that unlike with permanent alimony, open durational alimony can only be awarded in cases involving a marriage 20 years or longer (with rare exceptions). Another difference is that with open durational alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that it will end when the payor reaches full retirement age.

Limited Duration Alimony in New Jersey

As our East Brunswick alimony attorneys can explain, this is the most common type of alimony awarded in New Jersey divorce cases, and it allows for payments over a set number of months or years. The goal is to provide support to the lesser-paid spouse until such time that they can become self-supporting at the marital living standard. Even prior to the 2014 legislative changes, many family courts leaned toward limited duration alimony as opposed to permanent alimony in cases of intermediate length unions (generally understood to be somewhere between 5 and 15 years, but with consideration of other factors as well). Now, for the most part, limited durational alimony:

  • Can’t exceed the length of the marriage if it was less than 20 years, except in rare situations.

Rehabilitative Alimony in New Jersey

This is a type of alimony awarded for the purpose of helping to support a spouse while he or she is taking steps to return to the workforce. It’s set for a specific time frame, and it might even cover costs associated with reintegration into the workforce, including training, education and living expenses.

This form of alimony is common in cases where one spouse (usually the woman) took time away from the workforce to raise the children and maintain the family home.

Reimbursement Alimony in New Jersey

This is alimony awarded to reimburse one party for the support or contributions the other made to the other for career advancement, education or other aspect of their financial well-being. We see this often when one spouse drops out of the workforce to earn a higher level of education, such as a medical degree or a Juris Doctorate, while the other spouse works to support them through that – covering living expenses, housing, tuition, child care, etc.

Reimbursement alimony can be combined with other types of alimony, it’s more often awarded when there is not adequate grounds for other types of alimony, usually because the union was too short or the marital standard of living too low.

Talk to an Experienced East Brunswick Alimony Lawyer

It is a good idea to educate yourself on the types of alimony before you request it (or dispute a request). However, nothing is guaranteed. To put yourself in the best possible position, talk to an experienced East Brunswick alimony lawyer about how best to proceed in your case.

Contact us at (732) 810-0034 or email us through our website.

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