In a divorce, spouses often rely on their lawyers, mediators, and the courts to help determine spousal support. Spousal support, usually called alimony, helps establish the financial grounds for both parties during their divorce proceedings. Alimony varies by each state and New Jersey establishes specific types of alimony; each type of alimony can be suitable under specific circumstances.
Temporary alimony is usually prevalent at the beginning of divorce proceedings. The reason for temporary alimony is to transfer funds from a spouse who produces more in comparison to someone who may be unemployed or significantly underemployed. The intention of temporary alimony is to ensure that both spouses can afford expected living expenses during the early stage of their divorce; temporary alimony usually only lasts a few months. It may be replaced by another type of alimony, such as limited durational alimony, open durational alimony, reimbursement alimony, or rehabilitative alimony.
Limited Durational Alimony
In some circumstances, a divorcing spouse may need time to become self-supporting. Limited durational alimony sets a time frame for the spouse to receive a specific monthly amount to cover expenses until they can become self-efficient. Limited durational alimony carries a deadline and it only lasts for a certain period of months or years. Normally, limited durational alimony will not last longer than the marriage. For example, if the marriage had lasted 10 years, the limited durational alimony would not remain in effect longer than 10 years. This is subject to change under extenuating and unusual circumstances.
Open Durational Alimony
New Jersey law once referred to open durational alimony as permanent alimony. However, open durational alimony is now the preferred terminology. This type of alimony is awarded only in long-term marriages that lasted 20 years or longer. Open durational alimony does not have a deadline, which means it is continuous.
However, this does not mean that open durational alimony is infinite. If a spouse who receives durational alimony remarries, alimony may stop according to the divorce settlement agreement. Additionally, open durational alimony ends upon the retirement or death of the supporting spouse.
Reimbursement alimony occurs when a spouse financially supports the other to help pay for career training, certifications, and degrees. Marriages that occurred only for a short period of time are also eligible for reimbursement alimony. This alimony is a repayment for the spouse that provided educational support.
The last type of alimony in New Jersey is rehabilitative alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is based on how long the courts believe it will take for one spouse to become self-supporting. Like reimbursement alimony, rehabilitative alimony has a limited time frame.
Changing Court-Approved Alimony
After finalizing the divorce, alimony typically remains in its current status. Nonetheless, some divorced spouses do petition the court to change alimony decisions to fit changing circumstances, such as if a divorced spouse remarries, comes into sudden wealth, or cohabitates long-term with a new partner. Any changes in alimony must be legally approved to be binding.