When a marriage ends, there are usually numerous difficult issues to deal with. Often, alimony is one of them. Also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, alimony is not necessarily something that a divorce guarantees. However, depending on your circumstances, spousal support may be an important element of your divorce settlement or court order, at least until you can become self-sufficient.
Often, when a couple divorces, there are inequalities between the two spouses. For example, your spouse may earn more money than you or own significantly more assets. Perhaps your spouse received a degree of higher learning while you worked to support the family or has other advantages that you do not. If this is the case, you may want to pursue spousal support until you get back on your feet.
Will I qualify for spousal support?
Courts will award alimony to provide financial support following a divorce that may result in hardships or struggles for one spouse. Alimony may also be a source of contention in divorces for which significant wealth is on the table. Typically, spousal support offers temporary help so you can acquire additional skills, complete your education or obtain the experience you need to re-enter the workforce.
In most cases, New Jersey family courts follow a complicated formula to arrive at an amount and length of time for which you will receive alimony payments. Generally, the court will weigh your answers to these and other questions to arrive at a decision:
- How many years were you married?
- What is your age and the age of your spouse?
- Are you and your ex in good or poor physical and mental health?
- How long will it take for you to obtain the education or training you need to support yourself?
- What kind of quality of life were you used to while you were married?
- Did you make any sacrifices during the marriage that benefitted your spouse’s career or financial advancement or jeopardized your own?
- How much can your ex afford to pay?
Generally, spousal support does not last indefinitely, but there are factors that may warrant lifetime alimony. If you should receive lifetime alimony, you will want your ex to carry life insurance or make other provisions in his or her estate plan so your support will continue. Of course, every case is different, so seeking the counsel of a legal professional is a wise plan. You might find that alimony can help minimize the financial struggles you may face in your post-divorce life.