Family law- Alimony
Alimony is the amount paid by one spouse to the other in the event of marital separation or divorce. It is a means to ensure that both individuals enjoy a similar standard of living after divorce as they did during the marriage. Alimony becomes a way for a person to secure their new future financially, that their quality of life is maintained, and they are not left struggling post-divorce.
Alimony can be paid after the marital separation, during divorce, and after the divorce is finalized. It is important to note that the request for alimony should be made during the initial pleading for divorce. There are various types of alimony available in New Jersey.
Pendente lite alimony:
When the court is reviewing a couple’s case, usually a pendente lite alimony is awarded by the court until the divorce is finalized. It is meant as temporary support to ensure that the person can keep up with their expenses during the divorce proceedings. End of marriage can be stressful and emotional, so pendente lite alimony ensures that a spouse doesn’t have to worry about their financial position as well. It automatically terminates when the divorce is final.
Limited duration alimony:
As the name suggests, limited duration alimony lasts for a defined period of time. It is awarded to spouses whose marriage lasted less than twenty years. It is provided to help support the spouse immediately after the divorce for a period of time until they are self-supporting.
Open durational alimony:
The court can only award open duration alimony for marriages that lasted for 20 years or more. There is no fixed end date for this type of alimony unless exceptional circumstances exist to warrant otherwise.
Rehabilitative alimony is awarded to the spouse for a short duration until they can support themselves. It is meant to financially help the lower-earning spouse attain education or some form of training that enables them to work and be self-supporting. It helps them to rehabilitate.
Reimbursement alimony is awarded when one spouse financially supports the other spouse during their education or course certification meant to advance their career and benefit them both. It is a form of compensation recognizing the sacrifices made by the spouse who worked and helped with house responsibilities when the other spouse attained education to improve their standard of living, possibly.
The court determines the alimony that is awarded to the spouse based on certain factors. But unlike child support, there is no specific formula to calculate the amount. The court considers various factors and the individual situation of each case. These factors are:
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
- The duration of the marriage or civil union;
- The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
- The standard of living established in the marriage;
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
- The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;
- The parental responsibilities for the children;
- The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment;
- The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage or civil union by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers;
- The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair;
- The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award; and
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
As the court awards the alimony, once signed by a judge, it becomes a court order and is, therefore, legally binding. The supporting spouse is obligated to make timely payments of alimony to the other spouse as determined by the court or else is liable to face the consequences. After consulting with their lawyer, the dependent party should ask for court intervention to receive their alimony in case of delayed payments or the supporting spouse’s refusal to adhere to the terms of your agreement. A court has the necessary tools to enforce the agreement. Some options that are used are wage garnishment, liens on assets or properties, writ of execution, and contempt of court leading to incarceration.
Sometimes the delayed payments can be caused due to change in circumstances of the supporting spouse as opposed to a deliberate disregard of agreement. In these kinds of situations, modifications to the alimony agreement can be sought to increase, reduce, and even end the alimony. Modifications in the agreement require a ‘substantial change in circumstances’ of one or both the parties. Some of such changes can be retirement, unemployment, increase or reduction in wages, remarriage, and more. Termination of alimony automatically happens when the dependent spouse, the one receiving alimony, remarries. But when the supporting spouse remarries, the payment of alimony shall continue to be made in that event.
Our New Jersey family law attorneys at Bhuchar Law Firm can help you with your alimony case. Whether you are receiving or providing the support, an alimony agreement can impact your life significantly, and it is recommended to seek legal counsel from our experienced attorneys. They can fairly assess your situation and assist you with court proceedings regarding the alimony case, whether seeking or providing alimony, modifications, or enforcement. Allow our lawyers to guide you through the complex legal process.