In an interesting unreported decision released on August 3, 2009 entitled Mathias v. Mathias, a wife was granted both permanent and rehabilitation alimony after a 15 year marriage.
In this case, the husband was a state trooper. The wife had cared for the children, by agreement, though she had worked on and off as a cosmetologist. She was attending college seeking to be a registered nurse at the time of trial.
The trial judge imputed two income figures to the wife. One as to what she was earning at the time and what she could earn in the future as a nurse. The matter was reversed and remanded for further consideration as to both. For the current income, there was a finding that the wife was underemployed yet the Court used her current income. For the future, the statistics from the department of labor as to what a registered nurse could earn were used.
The Appellate Division stated:
However, Danielle has not held a full time job since the children were born. She has never worked as an RN, has no experience in the health care field, and has no specific prospective employers. There was no evidence that the yearly income imputed by the trial judge was an appropriate rate for an inexperienced, recently licensed RN in New Jersey. In short, although the judge used the appropriate source for imputing income, he did not take other significant, relevant
factors into consideration.
The wife unsuccessfully appealed her request to impute more income to the husband than he was currently earning but which was consistent with prior history. Interestingly, a consideration in not imputing more income for overtime to the husband was his desire to spend more time with the children, which the Appellate Division deemed relevant and appropriate.
Of more significance to me, but a fact that was not appealed is that the wife was awarded permanent alimony after a 15 year marriage. 15 years has, of late, been deemed a mid term marriage and there has been some debate as to whether permanent alimony was merited in a 1 year marriage. This case may be one that can be used to convince a judge who is on the fence.