When the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act was passed, one of the biggest reforms was the elimination of permanent alimony. It was replaced with the option of ordering alimony awards that are what we call “open duration.” This means that there’s no pre-determined ending date. To receive an open durational alimony award, in most cases your marriage must be considered a long-term duration.
Either way, there’s a restriction to alimony awards with durations that are no longer than the duration of your marriage. For example, if you were married for 15 years, your alimony award could be for a maximum of 15 years, depending upon certain factors. If a woman in a marriage of 10, 12, 15-years or more who left her career to stay home and raise her kids goes into divorce thinking that alimony will be available for the rest of her life, she’s going to be in for an unpleasant surprise.
Alimony reform was intended to make alimony more responsive and flexible to fit different family needs. You can work with your attorney on the best alimony award for you. Spousal support could be rehabilitative, meaning that it can go toward education or career re-training to help you re-enter the workforce.
Also realize that alimony laws in New Jersey are gender neutral. If you’re the higher-earning spouse and your spouse the lower earner, you may be in the position of becoming the obligor spouse who’s required to pay spousal support.
Bari Zell Weinberger is the owner and managing partner of Weinberger Law Group in New Jersey. She is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney.