Governor Christie has signed into law a bill that makes several changes to New Jersey’s alimony law. The new law is the result of two years of collective effort, argument and compromise by numerous state legislators, with provisions from several proposed bills combined to create the current legislation. While some of these changes have been embraced by alimony reform proponents, not all have won universal approval. It is, however, a step toward much needed alimony reform in the state of New Jersey.
Here is a brief rundown of the changes to New Jersey’s alimony law, and how they will affect you if you are seeking a divorce in New Jersey:
Permanent Alimonyâ has been changed to Open Durational Alimony. For marriages that last less than 20 years, alimony support may not exceed the length of the marriage, except under exceptional circumstances (based on the age and health of the involved parties, their degree of dependency, missed career opportunities, one party receiving a disproportionate share of equitable distribution, the parties ability to self-support, tax consequences, or other considerations) that the court decides are relevant.
The new law still allows for rehabilitative alimony (which provides support for a spouse while they attempt to support themselves) and reimbursement alimony (which reimburses a spouse who, for instance, supported a partner who was attending school), and states that reimbursement alimony cannot be modified for any reason.
Alimony may now be ended or reduced when the obligor (the party paying alimony) reaches retirement age, though it stipulates that past payments that are owed must still be paid. If the obligor opts for an early retirement, it is that party’s responsibility to prove to the court that retirement is appropriate based on personal circumstances. Any assets that were distributed at the time of divorce have no impact on the court’s decision regarding whether to end or modify alimony at retirement.
Support may likewise be changed or suspended if the obligor is unemployed for more than 90 days, or, if self-employed and encountering changed financial circumstances.
Alimony may also be terminated if the recipient cohabits with another person in a mutually supported, intimate personal relationship similar to marriage, even if they maintain separate households and do not live together on a full time basis.
Unfortunately, for those who were divorced before the passage of the law, it doesn’t alter any alimony awards that occurred prior to its passage. However, it does allow for current obligors to request a modification or termination of alimony upon reaching full retirement age.
If you have questions about alimony, or any matter relating to your past or impending divorce, please call our office at 856-227-7888 or e-mail [email protected] to schedule a free consultation.
The above is not specific legal advice nor does it create a lawyer-client relationship. Do not rely upon it without consulting an attorney to see how the information presented fits your unique circumstances.