The new alimony law is not really new anymore. It became effective about a year ago, but has redefined how we look at alimony in New Jersey. It clarified certain aspects of our alimony law and made other parts of our law fairer. In speaking with clients over the past year, we have determined the five most important facts about the new law that are most misunderstood. There are certainly more aspects of the new alimony law than what is contained in this blog, but this will provide you the basics.
- Permanent alimony has been eliminated from our law. The new alimony law has replaced it with something called open durational alimony. It is yet to be seen whether this new type of alimony will be significantly different from the old concept of permanent alimony.
- Limited duration alimony is only available for marriages of 20 years or less and cannot exceed the length of the marriage, except in exceptional circumstances.
- The new law does not generally apply to alimony already ordered or agreed to prior to enactment of the law. More specifically, if you are paying permanent alimony, you will continue to pay permanent alimony unless your obligation can be modified or terminated due to a change in circumstances, such as remarriage, cohabitation, retirement or change in income.
- There is now a rebuttable presumption that individuals paying alimony can retire at full social security retirement age. At that point, alimony terminates absent good cause for alimony to continue. However, very importantly, this rebuttable presumption does not apply to individuals who had an alimony obligation prior to enactment of the new alimony law. In those cases (i.e., individuals paying permanent alimony under the old law), the payor must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (meaning more likely than not) that the prospective or actual retirement is reasonable and made in good faith.
- In the event you lose your job, the new alimony law requires you to wait 90 days before making an application to the court to modify or suspend your alimony obligation. This is a significant change given the inconsistencies in how courts had viewed temporary changes in circumstances.
These five items barely scratch the surface of our alimony law, which also deals with cohabitation and modification due to self-employment income changes. If you want to discuss your particular circumstances, call our office at 732-529-6937 and schedule a consultation. Remember that we will not tell you what you want to hear. We will tell you what you need to know.