When a couple goes through a divorce, their financial situation can change dramatically. Couples have built their life together on the assumption that they will be sharing resources and responsibilities, but each spouse must now proceed on their own. It is common that one partner earns significantly more than the other, or the that the other spouse may not be employed. The partner who earns the most is required to pay alimony to prevent financial hardship from befalling on the other spouse.
Types of Alimony
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is intended to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a suitable standard of living during and after the divorce. There are several types of alimony that the requesting spouse might receive in New Jersey. This depends on the couple’s financial circumstances during their marriage and their prospects after the marriage:
- Pendente lite alimony is also known as temporary alimony, a spouse that earns less or is unemployed may receive support for living expenses while the divorce is being finalized.
- Limited durational alimony is alimony that the spouse requests for a short duration, so they can become self-reliant. The spouse that requests this type of alimony may need financial support while they take the necessary steps to become self-sufficient.
- Rehabilitative alimony is appropriate if the providing spouse has been asked to cover training and education. This would enable the requesting spouse to earn their own living.
- Open durational alimony is when the requesting spouse can receive lifelong support. This happens if a spouse gave up their own employment opportunities to care for the family or support the other spouse’s career or education; this is only an option if the marriage lasted 20 years or longer.
- Reimbursement alimony occurs when the requesting spouse supported their partner through their advanced education but now will not see any benefits.
The type of alimony and the amount of each alimony will be determined by a judge; the calculation is based on several factors. The following are some factors that determine the amount of alimony a spouse will receive:
- The financial needs of the requesting spouse.
- The spouse’s capacity to pay.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The standard of living during the marriage.
- Each spouse’s individual circumstances. This includes income, earning capacity, education, and employability.
- Each spouse’s age and physical and mental health.
- The time and expense needed for the dependent spouse to get the education and training that would help them become self-sufficient.
- Parental responsibilities.
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, financial and non-financial.
- Other financial factors, such as tax consequences or investments.
It should be noted that marital fault is not a factor in calculating the amount of alimony awarded, even if it is a reason for the divorce. Alimony is based on financial need. Alimony is not a punishment for bad behavior. However, the court may consider a spouse’s behavior if it resulted in economic consequences for the couple, such as spending joint assets on an affair.
Changes to Alimony Orders
There are extraordinary circumstances that can persuade the court to extend an alimony order. For example, if the dependent spouse has a chronic illness, the court may extend their alimony, even if the marriage lasted less than 20 years. If a spouse receives rehabilitative support for a limited time but will not be able to achieve self-sufficiency in that time, the order may be changed. Alimony typically ends when the supporting spouse reaches retirement age, or if the dependent spouse remarries.
Changes in circumstances may also warrant a modification, like if the spouse starts to live with someone and their financial needs significantly decrease. If the providing spouse’s capacity to pay becomes limited, due to disability, losing their job, or a substantial increase in their cost of living, they can petition the court to reduce alimony. The supporting spouse will not be granted a decrease if they voluntarily scale back their employment or become unemployed; the court will base their responsibility on their income, or what they should be making.
Moorestown Divorce Lawyers at Stockton Family Law Supports Those Going Through a Divorce
If you are going through a divorce, finding an experienced lawyer to guide you through the process is essential. Our dedicated Moorestown divorce lawyers at Stockton Family Law will give you legal counsel about your divorce and help you obtain the alimony you deserve. Contact us online or call us at 856-412-5052 for a free consultation. Located in Moorestown, New Jersey, we also serve clients in Mount Laurel, Burlington County, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.