You may find yourself with extra expenses or no way of adequately supporting yourself because of a divorce, but you can ask the court to award you alimony, or spousal support, as part of your divorce decree. In New Jersey, courts award alimony at their discretion, based on certain statutory factors, but there is no standard to calculate the amount of alimony that makes it predictable in all cases.
Types of Alimony
New Jersey courts can award standard alimony permanently or for a limited duration as specified in the divorce decree. The court may award rehabilitative alimony, which is money intended for use as part of a specific plan to rehabilitate the recipient spouse so she can obtain a job. The court may also award reimbursement alimony to repay a spouse for contributions made to the paying spouse’s career -- for example, a wife who worked to put her husband through medical school.
Needs and Ability
One factor a New Jersey court must consider when making an alimony award is the spouse’s actual need for support and the other spouse’s ability to pay. If you ask for alimony because you cannot support yourself, but your spouse is also struggling to pay his bills, the court may not award alimony since your spouse does not seem to have the ability to pay. Similarly, if you ask for alimony but your current employment covers your basic needs, you may not receive an alimony award.
New Jersey courts consider the duration of your marriage when making an alimony award, as well as the age of both spouses and their emotional and physical health. The court is more likely to award alimony to a spouse who was married for the majority of her adult life than to a spouse who was only married for a couple of years. Similarly, the court is less likely to award alimony to a spouse who is emotionally and physically capable of taking care of herself.
Another factor New Jersey courts consider is the employability of the parties, including their earning potential, education and training. If one spouse left the job market many years ago to take care of the couple’s children, she may have difficulty finding a job after the divorce and the court can consider this when awarding alimony. The court may award rehabilitative alimony to such a spouse to provide funds for training or education that will increase her chances of finding work.