Enter article text hereIn September, the New Jersey legislature gave divorce litigants, lawyers, and courts another option when considering the complicated issue of spousal support. It amended the divorce statutes to permit “limited duration” awards in addition to permanent, rehabilitative, and reimbursement alimony.
This new type of alimony is meant to fill a gap that has long been a problem for financially dependent spouses. Permanent alimony is generally reserved for long-term marriages where there is great disparity between the spouses’ income and assets. Reimbursement alimony is intended for spouses who have supported their mates through years of advanced schooling.
Rehabilitative alimony is designed for spouses in shorter marriages who need some help re-establishing themselves in the job market and who have a specific vocational plan.
Not all divorce litigants’ financial circumstances fit into one of those three categories, though. Sometimes all a spouse needs is a short time, perhaps a couple of years, to either get the children in school and go back to work, or to find a job and build some seniority and security. They do not need, and are not entitled to, permanent alimony, but they do not need job training, either. What they need is support for a little while–and now they can get it.
Some of the factors that the new law requires a Court to consider before awarding limited duration alimony include:
the actual need of one party to receive alimony and the actual ability of the other party to pay it.
the length of the marriage (short-term marriages are generally considered to be those less than about 10 years).
the age, health earning capacity and employability of the parties.
the standard of living established during the marriage.
the length of absence from the job market of the dependant spouse.
the parental responsibilities of the parties for their children.
the separate assets of the parties and the distribution of joint assets that the parties receive in the divorce.
the history of financial and non-financial contributions of each party to the marriage.
Like permanent alimony, limited duration alimony may be modified upon a showing of changed circumstances. It can also be modified if circumstances that the court found would occur at the time of award do not occur. The law permits a court to modify the amount of the alimony award, but not the length of the term, except in extraordinary circumstances.
It is important to remember that alimony of whatever type is income to the dependent spouse. Therefore, it must be negotiated, or determined by a Court, before appropriate child support can be calculated.