Fears of financial ruin have kept many unhappy couples together. In addition to concerns about dividing property, many are worried about the prospect of alimony. Some think of alimony as a means of survival. Others worry that spousal support payments will limit their ability to enjoy life. Is the threat of alimony keeping you together?
The Purpose of Alimony
Couples establish a standard of living during the tenure of their marriage. When the relationship ends, there is a presumption that both parties are entitled to continue similar lifestyles, to the extent possible. During their marriage, the parties may have agreed for one of them to maintain the home and raise children. Meanwhile, the other spouse might have commandeered the business world and acted as the sole breadwinner.
In order to establish some balance for the respective parties, spousal support may be a reality. Alimony negotiations can include arrangements for job training and return to educational pursuits. Based on the circumstances, spousal support can be short term or continue for an extended time period.
Alimony Reform in New Jersey
In September of 2014, the New Jersey legislature enacted a bill concerning alimony and amended N.J.S.2A:34-23. To many, the most important part of this reform is that there are no longer provisions for permanent alimony. Spousal support payments could end when the recipient becomes 67 years of age, if in fact they retire. Notwithstanding, a judge can rule otherwise.
The types of alimony available under the newly amended law are:
- Open durational alimony – Payable until the court orders otherwise. This generally is ordered for marriages of a longer duration, typically lasting more than 20 years
- Rehabilitative alimony – Payable for a specified period in order that the recipient can secure job training or education necessary to be self sufficient
- Limited duration alimony – Payable for a specified number of years, which is generally appropriate in shorter-term marriages.
- Reimbursement alimony – Payable to reimburse the recipient for supporting the other spouse while they pursued education to further their career
The new law contains other provisions. For example, if you were married for fifteen years, you will not be expected to pay alimony beyond fifteen years. If your job changes, it is easier to apply to the court for a change in circumstances.
There are a number of factors that are considered regarding alimony awards. The length of the marriage is an important concern, as are the earning capacities of both spouses. Obviously, need and ability to pay are also relevant. There are a total of fourteen items used by the court to determine the feasibility of ordering alimony.
Whether you feel you are entitled to receive alimony or have concerns that you may be ordered to pay it, you need legal advice. Contact Sam Stoia to set up an appointment to discuss your issues.