Alimony: How is it Calculated in NJ?

July 8, 2011

New Jersey has an alimony statute that lists 12 factors for the court to consider in awarding alimony in a divorce.  In addition, NJ case law requires that the court consider the marital lifestyle, the dependent spouse’s ability to contribute to his or her own support and the ability of the supporting spouse to pay any shortfall.  Unlike in some other states, there is no formula or guidelines for alimony in NJ, as there is with child support.  The statutory factors can be reviewed at N.J.S.A.2A:34-23(b).

There are four types of alimony in NJ.  First, the court must consider whether Permanent Alimony is warranted.  This usually occurs if the marriage is 15 years or longer and if there is a significant disparity in the parties’ incomes.  But other factors, including the age and health of the parties, the marital standard of living and parental responsibilities for children, also are taken into consideration. 

A second type of alimony is Limited Duration Alimony.  LDA, as it is called, is for a specified period of type and is usually awarded in shorter marriages where permanent alimony is not warranted.

A third type of alimony is Rehabilitative alimony.  This support is awarded to assist a dependent spouse who has a specific plan for improving or increasing their educational or job skills.  It is usually for a few years and may be in addition to other forms of alimony. 

Fourth, there is Reimbursement alimony.  Awarded less often, this type of alimony is intended to compensate a spouse who supported the other party while they were in school or receiving advanced training. 

In a litigated case where alimony is an issue, the parties will testify as to their marital lifestyle and provide documentation to prove income and expenses.  The court will attempt to provide a “reasonably comparable” standard of living for each party after the divorce, although this may not be possible where two households must be supported on the income that previously supported only one.  In mediated or collaborative cases, the parties, with assistance from counsel, try to work out a fair amount of support so that both parents can provide nearly equivalent lifestyles for their children after the divorce.

Although it may feel unfair to some parties that, despite their divorce, they still have to contribute to the income of the other spouse, the State views this as an ongoing obligation.  In fact, it is a way to avoid having a divorced spouse become a public charge because they are left with insufficient funds on which to live.

For more information on alimony and other divorce issues, contact Risa A. Kleiner, Esq. at 609.951.2222 or risa@rkleinerlaw.com


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