My soon-to-be ex-wife is a stay-at-home mom and has been since our marriage almost 20 years ago. She wants me to fund her tuition at a local community college in order for her to return to the workforce in addition to paying her alimony.
Are there any legal parameters or customary judgments surrounding the ex-husband’s support of tuition costs above and beyond the already calculated and agreed upon alimony payment?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on New Jersey alimony laws where I am licensed to practice.
A court in my state could order you to pay your spouse rehabilitative alimony to help your ex-wife become financially self-sufficient. Where I practice, there are five types of alimony, but for purposes of your question I will only address two types: permanent alimony and rehabilitative alimony.
Based on the length of the marriage, your wife would probably be entitled to an award of permanent alimony. Additionally, your wife may be entitled to an award of rehabilitative alimony which is alimony payable for a specific period of time when it is reasonably anticipated that the spouse will no longer need support.
Generally, a spouse seeking rehabilitative alimony must demonstrate a specific, defined plan which sets forth the steps to be taken to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Please note that in New Jersey there is case law authority which allows a court to award both permanent and rehabilitative alimony. See Hughes v. Hughes, 311 N.J. Super. 15 (App. Div. 1998)
Since your wife was a stay-at-home mom, it would seem that an award of rehabilitative alimony would be appropriate since she is planning to pursue a particular certification program at a local community college.
Presumably, upon completion of the program, your former spouse will be able to attain gainful employment. Thus, during your divorce negotiations you could argue that the rehabilitative alimony obligation should terminate upon completion of the certification program at the community college.
Further, you may want to consider characterizing the continuing education payments for your spouse rehabilitative alimony since alimony is taxable to the recipient and tax deductible for the payor.
Alimony can be a confusing issue as there are different types of spousal support and a multitude of factors that the court will consider in making an award of alimony.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction.
The Senator Behind New Jersey Alimony Reform