New Jersey family courts can award alimony as part of a divorce for various reasons. Primarily, courts order alimony payments to allow the lesser-earning spouse to maintain a lifestyle close to that which was experienced during the marriage. Because of this, in cases involving a long marriage and significant assets, an alimony award can total millions of dollars over a lifetime, or even more.
Alimony can also be awarded on a more temporary basis. Sometimes it is awarded to rehabilitate one spouse into a position to earn more once the term of alimony has expired, and other times to compensate spouses involved in relatively short marriages, where an open durational alimony award would not be fair or appropriate. The Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court recently addressed a claim by a woman that the alimony she was awarded in her divorce was unjustifiably rescinded by the lower court
According to the facts discussed in the recently published opinion, the parties involved had been married for several years, shared two children, and executed a divorce in 2007. As part of the divorce settlement, the ex-husband (the defendant) agreed to pay the plaintiff “rehabilitative alimony” for a period of five years after the divorce. Shortly after the divorce was finalized, the plaintiff became permanently disabled and sought to have the temporary alimony extended to become permanent based on her disability. Although the court denied the plaintiff’s request to extend alimony payments in 2012, the defendant continued to pay alimony to the plaintiff until 2021.