Earlier this year, R&B singer Mary J. Blige was ordered by a New Jersey family law judge to pay her estranged husband $30,000 in temporary spousal support. The couple, who have been married 12 years, have no children together, but Blige had been a stepmother to her husband’s three children from previous relationships.
East Brunswick alimony attorneys can explain there is a difference between pendente lite (during the litigation) alimony in New Jersey and “open durational” alimony. Sometimes referred to as “spousal support” or “maintenance,” alimony involves a court-ordered provision of financial support of one spouse to another in the event of a separation or divorce. The terms can vary substantially depending on the circumstances, and modifications require a court order.
Pendente lite alimony is support given during divorce proceedings. Open durational alimony is awarded in cases involving long-term marriages (20 years or more) with no set end date. There are also options for rehabilitative alimony (with a specific end date, intended to help the recipient become financially independent) and limited duration alimony (also with a specific end date, typically awarded in marriages that lasted less than 20 years).
Alimony awards are gender neutral, as the Blige case illustrates, though they have historically been granted more often to the wife. That is changing as women increasingly are becoming family breadwinners.
No More Permanent Alimony
New Jersey alimony laws are outlined in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.
Thanks to Bill A845, signed by Gov. Chris Christie in 2014, there were significant changes made to the state’s alimony law. The measure did away with so-called “permanent” alimony, a provision many referred to as archaic. It was replaced with the term “open durational alimony.” Still, others said it didn’t go far enough.
Among the changes the law established:
- Spouses married fewer than 20 years can’t collect alimony for longer than they were married, absent “exceptional circumstances”;
- Judges can lower payments if spouse paying alimony has been out of work for three months or more;
- Judges will have discretion to end open durational alimony payments for recipient who lives romantically with another partner – even if recipient is not married.
Essentially, these rules eliminated lifetime alimony payments and made it easier for payers to stop spousal support payments. Both recipients and payers benefit from discussions with an experienced New Brunswick alimony attorney anytime there is a substantial change in circumstance, such as a job change, move or altered living arrangement.
Although the law applies mainly to future divorces, it does establish the rebuttable presumption that payments of alimony in New Jersey end when the payer turns 67, which is considered “full retirement age.” A rebuttable presumption is an assumption assumed to be true unless someone can prove otherwise. That means it is possible for alimony payments to continue beyond the payor’s 67th birthday, but the burden of proof will rest on recipient to show why it should continue.
Modification of Alimony Payments in New Jersey
While the new law established key changes to the alimony laws, that does not mean modification of alimony is a simple matter. Alimony attorneys in East Brunswick must work with clients seeking modification to prove there has been a change in circumstances.
The statute outlines some exceptional circumstances which may require an adjustment of New Jersey alimony duration may include:
- Loss of income (voluntary loss of income is generally not considered a change in circumstance);
- Impact of a party’s health on ability to obtain employment;
- Income changes of payor/ obligee;
- Financial impact of retirement on payor.
Alimony modification is a complex area of law, with much riding on the outcome of the court’s decision. Experienced, compassionate legal representation is imperative.
If you have questions about alimony in New Jersey, contact New Brunswick alimony attorneys at Rozin-Golinder Law LLC by calling (732) 810-0034. We will provide diligent legal services and fight for your rights.
Additional Resources: N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, New Jersey Revised Statutes, Alimony, maintenance
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