Permanent Alimony in New Jersey
Our Hackensack Family Lawyers Explain Long-Term Spousal Support
Alimony, also called spousal support, is financial support paid by one spouse to the other following divorce. If you are divorcing, you may be ordered to pay alimony, or you may be granted to receive alimony. While alimony is not an issue in every divorce, it is determined in a case-specific manner that considers the incomes and earning potential of both parties, the standard of living established during the marriage, the ability of each spouse to maintain a comparable standard of living post-divorce, and the duration of the marriage and numerous other factors. In some cases, alimony is ordered for a finite period of time, and in others it is ordered on a more permanent basis subject to certain triggering events that may still make it end.
Alimony Mysteries, Myths and Misnomers: What is Permanent Alimony?
Sometimes divorcing people ask about the possibility of what New Jersey calls open-durational alimony. In the past before changes to the law, this longer-term type of alimony was called permanent alimony, and that term is still commonly used in public. Perhaps you are the one concerned about having to pay alimony possibly for the rest of your former spouse’s life. As every person’s situation is different, it is wise to speak with an attorney who is well-informed about New Jersey alimony law to learn what applies to your situation. Our alimony lawyers will provide guidance based on all the intricate and unique details of your circumstances.
Our New Jersey Alimony Lawyers Clear the Confusion
There are numerous myths and misunderstandings about open-durational, formerly known as permanent alimony. As your New Jersey alimony lawyers, we will give you honest, practical advice about your situation with regard to alimony and how long you may expect to pay it or receive it.
Get answers by calling Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC at (201) 880-9770 to schedule a time to speak with one of our lawyers.
Does NJ Have Lifetime Alimony?
It isn’t surprising that there is a lot of confusion about whether New Jersey has lifetime alimony. Alimony trends in New Jersey are constantly changing. Laws governing alimony have also changed in recent years. In 2014, a bill passed that was intended to provide clearer guidelines to the courts in deciding alimony issues, including those involving “permanent” alimony. That bill also changed the terminology for permanent alimony, calling it “open-durational alimony,” to more accurately describe that this type of alimony is not necessarily permanent.
NJ Lifetime Alimony Reform
Alimony Bill A845 was signed into law by then New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in 2014. The reform bill made significant changes to New Jersey statute § 2A:34-23, which governs alimony. In addition to other reforms, the bill changed the duration of alimony to last no longer than the length of the marriage, except in marriages of 20 years or more. For example, if someone was married for 15 years before divorcing, their obligation to pay alimony or entitlement to receive it won’t typically be longer than 15 years at max. Of course, ideally, if you are thinking you might have to pay alimony, then the goal is to negotiate a duration less than the max This type of alimony is called limited duration. Limited Duration Alimony is a set monthly figure for a set number of years. To the contrast, open-durational alimony mostly applies to marriages of 20 years or more. Open-durational alimony continues indefinitely unless the party receiving it remarries, the party receiving it retires at full retirement age, or if there is another significant change in circumstances that would trigger and warrant an alimony modification or termination
As with all laws, there are also exceptions. There are some exceptional circumstances when people in marriages under 20 years may receive open-durational alimony.
Exceptional Circumstances that May Affect the Length of Alimony
Exceptional circumstances under the law that could affect how long you pay or receive alimony include:
- The ages of both spouses at the time of the marriage and alimony award
- How dependent one spouse was on the other spouse for financial support during the marriage and for how long
- Whether poor health is a factor for a spouse
- Whether a spouse gave up career opportunities or otherwise supported the other person’s career
- Whether one spouse received an inequitable distribution of property in the divorce
- How concerns in the marriage, including child care responsibilities, may have affected a spouse’s ability to support themselves
- Tax issues
- Any other factors the judge decides are relevant to making alimony decisions.
Whether you were married for 20 or more years, or less than 20 years and have exceptional circumstances, we can help safeguard and understand your rights when it comes to either having to pay or if you are looking to receive alimony. And, to answer one of the most common questions we do get, alimony is not just for females. There are plenty of husbands and men that are equally entitled to alimony just as a wife or woman would be. Times they are a changing! So, if you are one of these men, pride doesn’t’ matter. You may be entitled to alimony, and you may want to explore that option when discussing a more global resolution to your divorce. .
Reach Out for Legal Help from Knowledgeable Alimony Attorneys
If you are worried about paying too much in long-term alimony, or are concerned that you won’t receive the alimony to which you believe you are entitled, we will advocate for your interests so that you are treated fairly. Once we can evaluate the details of your situation, we will help you understand how the court’s alimony decision may proceed, and we will work hard to influence a decision that is fair and favorable for your circumstances.
At Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC, our New Jersey alimony lawyers have decades of experience advising clients about alimony and alimony modifications. Call us to arrange a time to speak with an astute attorney by dialing (201) 880-9770. When we take your case, you can rely on us to provide sound and effective legal guidance targeted toward getting you the outcome you want and need.
Can Permanent Alimony Be Modified?
The term “permanent alimony” seemed to imply in the past that alimony could never be changed. But that is a misnomer. If there is significant change in circumstances for one or both spouses, permanent alimony is subject to modification or even termination in certain circumstances. So, naturally, the same goes for open-durational alimony. As long as the original alimony order or agreement did not expressly prohibit any changes, open-durational alimony agreements may be modified based upon a significant changed circumstances of either spouse, whether paying or receiving. It can also be terminated completely in certain circumstances.
Here are instances in which open-durational alimony may potentially be modified:
- The receiving spouse remarries, in which case open-duration alimony will end / terminate
- The receiving spouse cohabitates in a romantic, long-term relationship, which may be grounds for suspending and/or terminating alimony (and sometimes modifying it)
- The paying spouse permanently loses their job involuntarily or suffers another long-term financial setback after all avenues to try to regain earnings have been made
- The receiving spouse becomes financially independent (i.e.- earns significantly more money than at the time the alimony was initially determined)
- The paying spouse reaches full retirement age or wishes to retire earlier and can show that their request for an earlier retirement is in good faith
- The paying spouse becomes disabled and is unable to work (in these cases, it is best to have a social security determination of permanent disability);
- Either spouse dies while paying or getting alimony.
If you are faced with one of these situations and want to have your open-durational alimony modified, it will be up to you to show that circumstances have changed drastic enough that warrant a modification, unless you are able to come to agreement with your ex-spouse outside of the courtroom. Sometimes agreement can be reached through mediation, but in many cases if a spouse is getting alimony for the long-term, it is not an easy request to make so most cases end up going through the court.
We Provide Skilled Guidance in Open-Duration Alimony Modifications
Our alimony modification attorneys can help you determine what evidence you will need to prove a change in circumstances, whether you are a paying or receiving spouse seeking the modification. To prove changed circumstances you’ll have to provide appropriate evidence, which can vary in difficulty depending upon the type of change. For example, while it can be fairly easy to prove that your ex remarried, by obtaining a copy of the marriage license or wedding pictures from social media, proving that she or he is cohabitating can be much more difficult—especially if your ex is trying to hide it in order to keep getting alimony. Plus, the cohabitation laws in the State of New Jersey are complicated to understand and so a lot of people try to make this argument and fail, not because it is not true, but the evidence they provided wasn’t the right kind of evidence and they failed to ask the Court permission to dig deeper into the financial interplay between the couple.
We will counsel you about the type of evidence that may be needed to prove changed circumstances, help collect it, and guide you throughout the entire process of asking the court to change your open-durational alimony agreement. Reach out to Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC to speak with an experienced post-divorce modification lawyer with in-depth understanding of New Jersey’s alimony statute. You can arrange a case evaluation by calling (201) 880-9770.
Learn How the Lifetime Alimony Law in NJ May Affect Your Situation
Our Experienced Spousal Support Lawyers Have the Answers You Need
The issue of long-term alimony can certainly be confusing. We have the legal knowledge to clarify it for you. Whether you may be ordered to pay open-durational alimony or may be entitled to receive it is very case dependent. We will be happy to sit down with you, learn about your individual situation, answer your questions about divorce and alimony, and help you develop an effective strategy to address your concerns.
To get strategic legal help, call (201) 880-9770 to arrange a time to speak with an attorney at Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC.
Our attorneys have many years of experience in all matters pertaining to divorce, alimony and alimony modifications. When we take your case, we are on your side and you can trust us for smart guidance in alimony matters.