How Long Will My New Jersey Alimony Last?
Financial planning in New Jersey divorce cases is essential one’s long-term financial security. Alimony is often an important asset that many divorcees rely upon to get through the initial financial impact of divorce. But how long will your alimony last? The best Edison alimony attorneys fight hard to obtain a fair sum, but know clients receiving payments must plan for when the coffers close.
Alimony laws across the U.S. have undergone substantial reform in recent years. The general trend is reduction or elimination of permanent alimony awards. Additionally, the monetary total of long-term awards has generally declined. Many states now limit alimony awards to time necessary to enable the recipient to obtain job skills, education or training. Such awards are designed to allow the recipient to earn their income, rather than receive it through alimony.
So How Long are Alimony Awards in New Jersey?
In 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court addressed the issue of how courts should determine the length of alimony. In the case of Gnalls v. Gnalls, 222 N.J. 414, the court weighed the length of time alimony should be awarded to a wife after 14 years of marriage to a man who earned an excess of $1 million annually. After being awarded alimony for a limited duration by the trial court, plaintiff appealed the case. The Appellate Division agreed with her and remanded the case for an award of permanent alimony, holding that a marriage of nearly 15 years was not “short-term.” Defendant then appealed the award to the New Jersey Supreme Court. Justices for the high court found both the trial and appellate courts erroneously focused solely on the length of the marriage. The New Jersey Statutes Annotated lists a multitude of factors courts must consider, with duration of marriage being just one. Ultimately, the wife was limited to 11 years of alimony at $18,000 per month.
The Gnalls case was decided under old alimony laws effective before then-Governor Chris Christie signed a comprehensive alimony reform into law in September 2014. Now, the law restricts alimony awards even further. Section 2A:34-23 limits alimony for marriages lasting 20 years or less to no longer than the length of the marriage, except in “exceptional circumstances.” The law also creates a rebuttable presumption that alimony will terminate when the paying spouse reaches full retirement age. The statute lists numerous factors for courts to consider if a spouse receiving alimony wishes to challenge the presumption and continue receiving alimony.
Because there are so many variables court to alimony awards, it can be difficult to predict exactly how much alimony a divorcing spouse might receive or for how long those payments might continue. An Edison alimony attorney can help divorcing spouses fight for fair alimony and determine whether to accept an alimony settlement or submit the issue to trial to be determined by a judge. After an award has been ordered, an alimony attorney can also help a spouse seek modifications or defend challenges.
If you have questions about an alimony settlement or modifying an alimony award, contact the Edison alimony attorneys at Rozin-Golinder Law LLC by calling (732) 810-0034.