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Can I Request Alimony After Divorce Proceedings are Complete?

Discussing finances can feel uncomfortable. But when it comes to divorce, money talk may become less taboo—and for good reason. The economic impacts of ending a marriage are far-reaching, especially for spouses who have spent years with shared budgets, shared financial goals, and shared assets. 

While it’s not uncommon for one partner to become financially dependent on the other during a marriage, this may place them at a financial disadvantage during or after a divorce. For some divorcing couples, a judge may consider awarding alimony to one party to ensure they maintain the lifestyle they enjoyed during the marriage.

What are the types of alimony?

The circumstances that can lead to a difference in income between divorcing spouses vary. As a result, the amount and duration of alimony payments that a judge might consider equitable in one situation may not be appropriate in another.

For this reason, New Jersey has different types of alimony.

Limited duration alimony

Just as the name implies, limited duration alimony is awarded for a set period of time—even up to the duration of the marriage. This type of alimony is intended to “bridge the gap” until the receiving spouse can become self-supporting or their need for financial support otherwise diminishes. 

Limited duration alimony can be modified if the payee or payor experiences a change in financial circumstances. 

Rehabilitative alimony

Rehabilitative alimony is intended for spouses who stopped working during the marriage, whether to care for young children or for another reason. It provides the financial support needed to allow the payee to seek out education and training that will allow them to return to the workforce. 

In some cases, the judge may order one spouse to pay rehabilitative alimony until the other is able to work their way up to the same income they might enjoy if they hadn’t left the workforce at all. 

Reimbursement alimony

Sometimes, one spouse makes an economic sacrifice for the other. For example, one partner might use a savings account opened prior to the marriage to pay for the other’s college education. 

Typically, these types of financial decisions are made under the assumption that the couple will stay married and jointly benefit from the decision in the long term. In light of this, a judge might order reimbursement alimony to “repay” such funds for a set period of time. 

Open-durational alimony

For marriages of 20 or more years, a spouse may be entitled to open durational alimony.  

What determines whether a spouse gets alimony?

New Jersey doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all formula for calculating alimony. Instead, the judge decides whether to award alimony (and if so, the payment amount) on a case-by-case basis. The amount and duration of alimony payments will depend on various factors that include, but aren’t limited to the need for alimony, the ability to pay alimony, the length of the marriage, the earning potential of both spouses, and the financial needs of the supported spouse.

The need for alimony

One of the main objectives of alimony is to allow both parties to maintain a standard of living similar to what they enjoyed during the marriage. The judge will consider each person’s income and whether one spouse requires financial support to maintain their marital standard of living.

The ability to pay alimony

The judge will determine whether the spouse can maintain a comparable lifestyle while paying alimony.  

Length of the marriage

Unless a marriage lasts twenty years or more, alimony in New Jersey doesn’t typically exceed the length of the marriage. However, there may be some exceptions to this rule if one spouse can prove that “exceptional circumstances” are present. These may include (but aren’t limited to):

Age of the unemployed spouse 

The judge will consider whether the unemployed spouse is young enough to easily start a new career or old enough to retire. 


A spouse’s physical and mental health or level of disability may affect their ability to earn an income, not to mention their ongoing expenses. The judge will account for this when making a ruling on alimony. 

Revisiting the issue of alimony

In some cases, a spouse may not be awarded alimony during the initial divorce proceedings but may revisit the issue of alimony payments in the future if their financial situation changes. If a spouse finds themselves in a difficult financial situation after a divorce is completed, they may request alimony. 

In this case, the amount and duration of alimony payments will still depend on various factors, including the length of the marriage, the earning potential of both spouses, and the financial needs of the supported spouse.

If you are considering requesting alimony or have been asked to pay alimony after a divorce, it’s important to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer who can help you navigate the legal process and protect your financial interests.

Can alimony payments be modified?

Most types of alimony payments can be modified if there is a significant change in either party’s financial situation. For example, if the paying spouse unexpectedly experiences a decrease in income or loses their job, they may petition the court to reduce their alimony payments.

Conversely, if the supported spouse experiences a significant increase in income or receives an inheritance, the supporting spouse may petition the court to reduce or terminate their alimony payments.

It’s important to note that the burden of proof is on the party requesting the modification, and the court will carefully review the financial situation of both parties before making a decision.

Questions about alimony? Contact Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski. 

Alimony can be a complex and emotional issue both during and after a divorce, and it’s important to work with an attorney to understand your rights and obligations under New Jersey law. Dughi, Hewit & Domalewski is here to walk you through the legal process of petitioning the court for alimony after a divorce. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

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