Should you prepare when petitioning for alimony?

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

Surviving on a single income in the 21st century is extremely challenging, and perhaps even impossible for some people. One way to shore up your financial situation is to ask for (and obtain) alimony during your divorce.

In the past, alimony was often considered a guarantee during divorce, especially for stay-at-home mothers with few job prospects. Today, however, courts are not as generous with spousal maintenance or alimony awards as in previous eras.

Good preparation can improve your petition

You may be planning to request alimony, but are you prepared to present your petition to a family court? Just telling the judge you need post-divorce financial help may not be enough to obtain an award. You must demonstrate your need for alimony to the court.

These tips can help you prepare to deal with the court, helping your chances for a successful alimony petition.

Know what is possible: Learn about the types of alimony available in New Jersey. Examples include durational, rehabilitative and limited-duration spousal maintenance.

Know your needs: Be able to explain to the court whether you expect to need alimony for a short duration or on a long-term basis. Judges appreciate support petitions that are realistic and grounded in need rather than desire.

Know your spouse’s situation: Do what you can to understand your spouse’s economic circumstances before you request alimony. That way, the court will know you are not asking for more than they can pay.

Finally, identify sacrifices and contributions you made for your spouse and family. For example, if you worked part-time to help pay for your spouse’s education or job training, the court may consider that.

If you believe your spouse will fight your alimony request, legal guidance can improve your odds of success.

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