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Alimony 101: Everything You Need to Know About Spousal Support in New Jersey
When you think of “divorce,” lots of thoughts may run through your mind, especially if you suddenly find yourself facing a split. One of the terms that goes right along with divorce is “alimony.”
No matter what your situation or marital status, alimony is an important concept to understand in general terms. Here’s what you need to know about what alimony is (and what the different types are) and how it works in New Jersey.
What Exactly Is Alimony?
Alimony goes by several names, most commonly “spousal support,” although some courts may also refer to it as “maintenance.” The idea here is that, in a divorce, one spouse will have to pay the other to help maintain their standard of living so that it doesn’t change massively after the couple is no longer married.
In New Jersey, the court will determine if both parties contributed to the assets and income of the marital estate. If that’s the case, they’re both able to reap the benefits of those assets, even if one spouse was financially dependent on the other (either by not working or working a lower-paying job).
So, for instance, if one spouse worked full-time to pay the bills while the other stayed home to care for the household and children, then the non-working spouse may be entitled to alimony to maintain their financial standing as established during the marriage. However, it’s important to realize that alimony isn’t automatic in New Jersey. A spouse who wants alimony will have to prove that he or she needs the financial support before a judge will order it.
5 Types of Alimony
Although many people think of alimony as being just a simple payment plan, there are actually several types of alimony. In fact, a judge can order a combination of these in some cases. These include:
- Temporary alimony (pendente lite alimony): This is financial support that’s awarded to one of the parties for a limited time. It’s usually only awarded during the divorce proceedings until a more permanent alimony order may be issued.
This will help one of the spouses with living expenses while the divorce is happening. (This type is the only kind that a party will be given during the divorce itself.)
- Limited-duration alimony: In some cases, a spouse may need time to “get on their feet” after a divorce. This means that they’ll require some limited assistance to become self-supporting. However, the judge will usually issue a series of conditions for the support.
If the spouse doesn’t meet these conditions, then the other spouse may move to have the alimony terminated. Usually, this will involve the party receiving alimony having to demonstrate that they’re actively seeking employment so they can become self-sufficient.
- Rehabilitative alimony: In some cases, a spouse may not instantly be able to enter (or re-enter) the workforce immediately after the marriage. Instead, they may need continuing education or workplace training to help them get a job that will help them maintain their standard of living.
In this case, the judge will require the spouse receiving the alimony to outline exactly what steps they’ll need to complete in their education so they can be financially independent. That spouse will then have to show that they’re working toward meeting these requirements or they can lose the alimony.
- Reimbursement alimony: In some cases, one spouse may have helped support another during the marriage, while the other sought a higher education or job certification. In these cases, the couple had planned to share in the eventual rewards of the higher degree. But now that they’re divorcing, the supporting spouse won’t recoup their support.
If this is your situation, a judge may order your spouse to pay you reimbursement alimony—literally, support to reimburse you for the support you gave your spouse while they got their continuing education.
- Permanent alimony: This one is a bit of a misnomer in that it usually isn’t permanent. In this case, one spouse will receive alimony permanently as long as they have a legitimate excuse for not being financially independent. (One such example might be a spouse who cannot find employment because of a major disability.) If the spouse can no longer offer a valid reason for their situation or they do become financially independent, then the alimony order will be reversed.
When Do Alimony Payments Stop?
Every divorce is different (just as every marriage is different) and so the answer can be depending on the type of alimony awarded. For instance, temporary (pendente lite) alimony will end when the divorce is final.
However, it may switch over then to a new type of alimony. One of the most common beliefs is that alimony ends when your former spouse remarries. However, this may also not be the case for certain types of alimony.
Do I Still Pay Alimony if My Ex Gets Remarried?
If you’re paying permanent or limited-duration alimony to your ex, and then he or she remarries, then your obligation ends immediately upon the marriage. If your ex doesn’t inform you of the remarriage immediately, then he or she may have to pay court costs and fees/penalties.
However, if you’re paying rehabilitative or reimbursement alimony, then you may still have to pay it if they remarry. In order to end this type of alimony, you will need to apply with the court and show them cause as to why it should be terminated.
Understand How Alimony Works in New Jersey
If you are in the process of getting a divorce, then certainly your finances are going to be high on your list of priorities and worries. Hopefully, by having a better understanding of how alimony works, you can know exactly what your rights are and alleviate some of your anxieties.
Contact the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Woodbury, NJ Today
If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, you’ll also most likely be dealing with another matter like alimony, child custody, child support, or division of assets, so you’ll need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Runnemede, and Westville. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.