Legal Memorandum: Calculation of Rehabilitative Alimony

Issue: How do the New Jersey courts calculate the appropriate amount of rehabilitative alimony?

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: Rehabilitative alimony; Marital standard of living
Jurisdiction: New Jersey
Cited Cases: 671 A.2d 147; 83 N.J. 139; 714 A.2d 981; 751 A.2d 524; 751 A.2d 536; 312 A.2d 878; 416 A.2d 45
Cited Statutes: N. J. Stats. § 2A:34-23B(4)
Date: 11/01/2000

It is well settled that the goal of a proper alimony award is to assist the supported spouse in achieving a lifestyle that is "reasonably comparable to the one enjoyed while living with the supporting spouse during the marriage."  See  Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139, 416 A.2d 45 (1980).  The supreme court recently reaffirmed the approach announced in Lepis, stating that “[t]he importance of establishing the standard of living experienced during the marriage cannot be overstated.   It serves as the touchstone for the initial alimony award and for adjudicating later motions for modification of the alimony award when ‘changed circumstances’ are asserted.”  Crews v. Crews, 164 N.J. 11, 16, 751 A.2d 524, 526-27 (2000).

Crews recently reaffirmed, the "touchstone" for the alimony award is the amount necessary to enable a spouse to have a life style "reasonably comparable to the one" he or she had while living with the supporting spouse, during their marriage.  Crews, 164 N.J. at 16, 751 A.2d at 526.

In Crews the needs of the supported spouse upon which alimony is based “does not mean some subsistence level; it describes the point at which the supported spouse is deemed to have reached a level at which he or she can support himself or herself in a manner reasonably comparable to the marital standard of living.”  Crews, 164 N.J. at 34, 751 A.2d 536.

The trial court has a  fundamental duty to […]

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