Once the reality of an impending divorce finally hits home, most couples will find themselves beset with a host of questions relating to the road ahead. Will I have custody of my children? Where will I live? Who gets the house? Will I be entitled to alimony?
Indeed, it's this last inquiry that often weighs the heaviest on the minds of soon-to-be divorced spouses, as they are facing an entirely new — and somewhat uncertain — financial future.
The unfortunate reality, however, is that there is really no definitive answer to this question, as every couple's circumstances are different.
Indeed, the courts here in New Jersey consider a host of factors in deciding whether to award alimony, including just a few of the following:
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living to which the spouses are accustomed and their respective abilities to maintain something close to this standard
- The physical and emotional health of the spouses
- The needs of the spouses and their ability to pay alimony
- The education, skills, employability and earning capacities of the spouses
Furthermore, there are four distinct types of alimony that the courts may decide to award, including open durational alimony, limited duration alimony, rehabilitative alimony and reimbursement alimony.
Open durational alimony
As implied by the name, this is essentially alimony that continues indefinitely. It is only awarded, however, where the couple was 1) married for a minimum of 20 years, or 2) one spouse is permanently unable/financially dependent owing to a dearth of work-related skills or experience, or an underlying disability.
It's important to note that either spouse may petition the court to adjust the amount of open durational alimony if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. In addition, it will cease in the event of the paying spouse's death or retirement, or the receiving spouse remarries or lives as though they have (i.e., cohabitation).
We'll continue examining the remaining forms of alimony in future posts …
If you would like to learn more about the divorce process, including the payment or receipt of alimony, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can provide answers and pursue solutions.