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Alimony (also called spousal support) is an obligation to provide financial support to one's spouse after separation or divorce. It is established by divorce law and is based on the premise that both spouses have an absolute obligation to support each other during their marriage. Alimony is the continuation of this obligation to support after separation or divorce has occurred.
Temporary Alimony: Support ordered when the parties are separated prior to divorce. Also called alimony pendente lite which is Latin meaning "pending the suit".
Rehabilitative Alimony: Support given to a lesser earning spouse for a period of time necessary to acquire work outside the home and become self sufficient.
Permanent Alimony: Support paid to the lesser earning spouse until the death of the payor, the death of the recipient, or the remarriage of the recipient.
Reimbursement Alimony: Support given as a reimbursement for expenses incurred by a spouse during the marriage (e.g. educational expenses).
Factors that can effect the amount and duration of support:
Length of the Marriage or Civil Union
Generally alimony lasts for a term or period that is directly related to the length of the marriage or civil union itself. A marriage or civil union of over 10 years is often a candidate for permanent alimony.
Relative Income of the Parties
In New Jersey, a right is recognized of the spouses to live according to the means to which they have become accustomed. Alimony attempts to adjust the incomes of the spouses so that they are able to approximate, as best possible, their prior lifestyle.
Health of the Parties
Poor health goes towards need, and potentially an inability to support oneself. The courts do not want to leave one party indigent.
Future Financial Prospects of the Parties
A spouse who is going to realize significant income in the future may have to pay higher alimony than one who is not.
Age of the Parties at the Time of the Divorce
Generally, more youthful spouses are considered to have the ability to adapt more easily and get on with their lives and, therefore, may be deemed to require shorter periods of support.
Time Separated While Still Married
In some U.S. states, separation is a triggering event, recognized as the end of the term of the marriage. However, New Jersey is not one of those states and does not recognize separation or legal separation. So for example, in New Jersey, a 2-year marriage followed by an 8-year separation will generally be treated as a 10-year marriage.