Alimony, sometimes referred to as spousal support, refers to payments that are made by one spouse to the other after a divorce. It is used to help balance the disparity in the parties’ earning history and potential. Its purpose is not to punish the payor spouse or reward the payee spouse. It is intended to ensure that each party will be able to maintain, as best as possible, the relatively same lifestyle as he or she became accustomed to during the marriage. In most cases, alimony payments are tax deductible for the payor spouse, and taxable to the payee spouse. In New Jersey, there are four types of alimony.
- Reimbursement alimony – This type of alimony could apply to a situation where one spouse supported the other spouse through law school, medical school, business school or other type of graduate or post-graduate education.
- Rehabilitative alimony – This type of support could apply to a situation where a stay-at-home parent or homemaker intends on returning to the workforce after obtaining up-to-date job skills. The support may be higher during the rehabilitative period to ensure the other party can afford educational expenses.
- Limited duration alimony – This is generally applied to shorter term marriages where there is a disparity in marital contribution and earning power. Amount and duration are based on numerous factors, such as marital lifestyle and earning capacity.
- Open durational alimony – Determination of the length and amount of alimony will be made by a court pursuant to consideration of all statutory factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b), such as actual need and ability to pay, duration of the marriage, standard of living established during the marriage, earning capacities and employability, and equitable distribution of property, to name a few. However, for any marriage or civil union less than 20 years in duration, the total duration of alimony may not, except in exceptional circumstances, exceed the length of the marriage or civil union.