It is rare that both people in a relationship make the exact same amount of money, even if both are employed. In fact, in many marriages, one spouse makes significantly more money than the other. Sometimes, one spouse will give up their job to care for the children and household, while the other spouse becomes the sole breadwinner for the family.
If the couple decides to divorce, the spouse earning less money may no longer be able to afford the lifestyle they had become accustomed to during the marriage. In such cases, alimony or spousal support may become part of the parties’ divorce settlement. Spousal support typically refers to a monthly payment made by the higher-earning spouse to the lesser-earning spouse for a set or indefinite amount of time.
What types of spousal support are available?
There are four main types of spousal support available to couples divorcing in the state of New Jersey. These types include:
- Limited duration: Paid until spouse can become self-supporting (intended for short-term marriages).
- Open durational: Paid until spouse reaches full retirement age, with exceptions (intended for long-term marriages, 20 years or longer).
- Rehabilitative: Paid until necessary training/education is completed to re-enter workforce.
- Reimbursement: Paid to reimburse financial contributions made by one spouse towards other spouse’s education/career.
Courts will determine which type of alimony and how much to award based on several factors including:
- Duration of the marriage.
- Age and health of both spouses.
- Income levels and earning capacities of both spouses.
- Contributions (financial and otherwise) made by each spouse during the marriage.
- Parental responsibilities (if any).
- How much time, education, and training is required for lesser-earning spouse to find an appropriate job.
Not every divorce settlement includes spousal support. A family law attorney can give you a better idea of whether you are entitled to alimony in your divorce.