When Governor Christie signed new alimony provisions into New Jersey law, the concept of permanent alimony was eliminated. This elimination may initially cause concern for an individual who expects long-term or even permanent support after divorce.
However, each Denville alimony attorney at our firm can explain a number of options that can help ensure that the parties of divorce have the funds needed to get back on their feet — for as long as they need financial assistance.
The New Law Provides Four Alimony Options
The new law identifies the common situations that justify alimony payments and addresses them with the following four types of alimony:
- Open durational: This is the legislature’s replacement for” permanent alimony”, with the new term providing a more precise meaning. Rather than implying that alimony must be paid for a lifetime, this term leaves the length of payment open based on the needs of the recipient. As long as recipients have valid reasons why they cannot earn enough money to support themselves, payments will continue, with a rebuttable presumption that alimony ends at the obligor’s retirement age, as defined by the Social Security Administration. On the other hand, a change in circumstances can justify a change in alimony terms, either through a legally-executed agreement between the divorced parties or by a judge.
- Rehabilitative: There are many reasons why both spouses may not share equal earnings capacity during their marriage. For example, one party may have held off on continuing education in order to care for the family, or he or she may have come to the marriage with less training than the other. Rehabilitative alimony provides relatively short-term assistance to help pay for the training or education needed to earn a reasonable income in the future.
- Limited duration: This type of alimony typically applies when divorce ends a short-term marriage. Particularly when the recipient is young and has good employment prospects for the near future, the courts may provide alimony over a relatively short time period.
- Reimbursement: It is not uncommon for one spouse to support the family while the other seeks an advanced education. In fact, that spouse may have paid for all or part of tuition, expecting that the support and payments would provide the family with a better future lifestyle. In the event of divorce, reimbursement alimony requires the person who benefitted from that investment to repay it. A specific monetary amount is defined in the divorce decree and reimbursement alimony payments end once the entire sum is repaid.
Alimony Settlements Are More Flexible Than Expected
At first glance, it might appear that the New Jersey alimony laws might place unreasonable limitations on the ability of an individual to maintain reasonable living standards over the short- or long-term following divorce. However, this is not the case.
First, with the help of a skilled alimony lawyer, it is possible to combine more than one type of alimony in a divorce settlement. For example, the courts may grant reimbursement alimony to one party while also granting rehabilitative or even open durational alimony to provide that party with the funds needed to enhance their skills for employment.
Additionally, there is no law that states that the parties of divorce can’t negotiate their own alimony terms, even if they do not strictly follow the definitions within the law. Call Veres & Riordan, LLC or use our convenient online contact form to start a discussion about your legal options.