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New Jersey Spousal Support

When people think of spousal support (alimony), they typically think of a check in the mail that arrives on a regular interval that is meant to help one spouse support their post-divorce lifestyle and offset the financial differences between each spouses' earnings. And while that is the most common type of spousal support, there is another option called "rehabilitative alimony" for as the name suggests, helps the recipient spouse establish a more stable post-divorce lifestyle by offering additional funding for them to return to school, build a career or receive training which can help them become more financially independent.

As New Jersey divorce mediators, it's our job to help couples understand the realities of their post-divorce lifestyle and explain to them that running two households is more expensive than one so each of your post-marital financial situations are going to be lower than your martial situation and that the only way to account for this is to either reduce expense or increase income. As reducing expenses these days seems like a tall order and jobs aren't exactly growing on trees (especially for those parents who have been out of the workforce for a number of years) rehabilitative alimony is perhaps an option they'd wish to consider.

By taking some time to return to school, the spouse who worked inside the home and perhaps raised the children, can receive training which will allow them to compete in today's workforce. Skills one acquired 15 years ago may no longer be relevant in today's workplace and by attending school and having your ex-spouse pay for some of it, the benefits are twofold:

  • You needn't worry about how you are going to support yourself while attending school. I'm sure we all have friends or family members who when asked if they could do it all over again say they would pursue a line of work they aren't currently in. Then what happens is you ask them why they don't go back to school and learn to be a rocket scientist / musician / English teacher they say "I can't I have to support the family." In the case of rehabilitative alimony, the financial worry has been eliminated or greatly reduced.
  • It's a good investment in your ex-spouse and yourself. If you are the one paying spousal support and you can contribute towards your ex-spouses' ability to earn a living, their income may go up and in turn, your alimony obligation may be reduced. And if you share children together and you can raise the standard of living for the other home that your children will reside in part of the time, this too is a great thing. As I remind people, it's always best to be financially self-sufficient whenever possible as you never know what's going to happen to the earning capacity of the individual paying spousal support.

And while rehabilitative alimony isn't an option for everyone, it can be a tremendous help to those who have been out of the workforce for a period of time to sharpen their skills or acquire new ones which benefits everyone.

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In order for permanent alimony to be awarded in New Jersey, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years and one spouse must have become economically dependent on the other. This type of alimony allows the obligee to maintain the lifestyle to which he or she has become accustomed for the duration of the obligor's lifetime (unless the obligee remarries).
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