Limited Duration Spousal Support in New Jersey Divorce
Under NJ Rev Stat § 2A:34-23 (2014), Alimony and Maintenance, four types of spousal support (alimony) are available in New Jersey: 1) limited duration alimony 2) permanent alimony, 3) reimbursement alimony, and 4) rehabilitative alimony.
Limited duration alimony may be awarded by the New Jersey family court when a spouse requires economic assistance for a specific time. To determine the term length, the court considers the amount of time it should “reasonably” take for the financially unstable spouse to improve earnings capacity. Limited duration alimony envisions a point at which alimony isn’t needed. It’s not awarded as a “substitute” for permanent alimony. The judge may also modify the award (but not the duration, except in very unusual circumstances). Like permanent alimony, limited duration alimony ends when the recipient spouse remarries.
Similarly, reimbursement alimony is provided for a specific limited time period. It is used to compensate a spouse when he or she supported the other spouse in graduate school, law school, or medical school (or an “advanced education”). The court may award reimbursement alimony as a separate amount or along with limited duration alimony or rehabilitative alimony. Unlike limited duration alimony, reimbursement alimony doesn’t terminate when the recipient remarries unless the court determines the circumstances on which the original award was calculated haven’t occurred or the spouse paying the alimony presents good cause or agreement to the contrary.
Rehabilitative alimony is provided on the basis of a plan in which the paying spouse outlines the “scope of rehabilitation—the time frame and the steps to be taken—in which rehabilitation should occur. This type of alimony may be changed if a shift in circumstances arises.
New Jersey law requires family courts to consider detailed factors in the calculation of alimony. Although it offers guidelines and standards for the court to consider, there isn’t an exact formula used to calculate spousal support. New Jersey courts must take into account the lifestyle during the marriage, the paying spouse’s ability to make spousal support payments, and the eventual ability of the dependent spouse to support himself or herself.
Under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b), the court is required to consider 13 factors, including:
- Actual need/ability of the spouses to pay,
- Term of the marriage/civil union,
- Physical/emotional health and age of the parties,
- Established standard of living during the marriage/civil union, likelihood that both parties can attain a “reasonably comparable” living standard,
- Earning capacities and employability of both parties,
- Length of job market absence of the spouse requesting maintenance,
- Parental responsibilities,
- Time/expense needed to obtain education/training needed to find employment, etc.,
- History of contributions to the marriage/civil union,
- Equitable distribution of property and payouts made on the equitable distribution,
- Income from investments or assets of the parties,
- Tax consequences of an alimony award, and
- Any other items the court deems relevant.