In all actions brought for divorce, dissolution of a civil union, divorce from bed and board, legal separation from a partner in a civil union couple or nullity, the court may award alimony or spousal support. This establishes the legal responsibility by one spouse to the other spouse for financial provisions and support during a divorce, both pre and post – divorce. New Jersey law stipulates that in marriages lasting fewer than 20 years, the length of payments now cannot exceed the length of the marriage - unless a judge decides there are "exceptional circumstances." Thus, if you were married for seven years, you are not obligated to pay more than seven years of alimony.
When determining an award of alimony and what type, the court shall consider the following factors:
- 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 or civil union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties
- The length of absence from the job market of the requesting party
- The parental responsibilities for the children
- The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the requesting party to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income
- 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 or educational opportunities
- 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, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant
When a share of a retirement benefit is treated as an asset for purposes of equitable distribution, the court shall not consider income generated thereafter by that share for purposes of determining alimony.
In determining the length of term of alimony to be awarded, the court will consider the length of time it would reasonably take for the recipient to improve his/her earning capacity to a level where limited duration alimony is no longer appropriate.
Rehabilitative alimony shall be awarded based upon a plan in which the receiving spouse or partner shows the scope of rehabilitation, the steps to be taken, and the timeframe, including a period of employment during which rehabilitation will occur. Reimbursement alimony may be awarded under circumstances in which one party supported the other through an advanced education, anticipating participation in the fruits of the earning capacity generated by that education.
You should consult with an attorney if you want to arrive at a better idea of what your potential alimony settlement might be.