New Jersey Alimony Reform And Retirement

By Peter Van Aulen, Esq.

Governor Christie on September 10, 2014 signed into law NJ alimony reform. The new alimony statute makes a number of declarations in regard to a payor’s ability to modify or terminate his or her alimony obligation due to retirement.

Retirement Upon Full Retirement Age

The statute states that there is a rebuttable presumption that alimony shall terminate upon the paying spouse reaching full retirement age. The amended statute defines “full retirement age” as the age at which a payor is eligible to receive full Social Security benefits. The rebuttable presumption may be overcome, if upon consideration of the following factors and good cause shown a court finds that alimony should continue:

  • The parties’ ages at the time of the application for retirement;
  • The parties’ ages when they married or entered into a civil union and their ages at the time of the alimony award;
  • The payee’s degree and duration of economic dependency upon the payor during the civil union or marriage;
  • Whether the payee has given up something of value in exchange for a larger or longer alimony award;
  • The amount and duration of alimony previously paid;
  • The parties health at the time of the retirement application;
  • The parties’ assets at the time of retirement;
  • Whether the payee has reached full retirement age;
  • The parties sources of income both earned and unearned;
  • The payee’s ability to have saved sufficiently for retirement;
  • Any other factor that a Judge finds relevant.
Retirement Prior To Attaining Full Retirement Age

According to the statute when the payor requests to retire before reaching the full retirement age, he or she will have the burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that said retirement is reasonable and made in good faith. The court will consider the following factors to determine if the retirement is reasonable and is made in good faith:

  • The parties’ ages and health at the time of the application;
  • The payor’s occupation and the common recognized age of retirement in that occupation;
  • The eligible retirement age at the payor’s place of employment, including compulsory retirement dates, or dates in which if the payor’s continued employment would not increase his or her retirement benefits;
  • The payor’s motives for retiring, including any pressure exerted by his or her employer to retire, or any incentive plans offered;
  • The parties’ reasonable expectations during the civil union or marriage in reference to retirement and their expectations at the time of dissolution or divorce;
  • The payor’s capability to continue to make support payments after retirement, considering whether the payor will work part-time or be employed at reduced hours;
  • The level of financial independence of the payee and the financial affect that the payor’s retirement will have on the payee.
  • Any other relevant factor affecting the payor’s choice to retire and each of the parties’ financial circumstances.
Retirement When There Is An Existing Alimony Award Established Before The Effective Date Of NJ Alimony Reform

When a payor files a retirement application in cases when the final alimony award was established before the effective date of the new alimony statute, the payor’s reaching “full retirement age” shall be found to be a good faith retirement age. Further, the court in determining whether the modification or termination of the payor’s alimony obligation is appropriate shall consider the payee’s ability to have saved adequately for the payor’s retirement and the factors stated under the immediate above section of this article entitled “Retirement Prior To Attaining Full Retirement Age.

It is important to note that the amended statute states for all applications for retirement, the assets distributed among the parties by the divorce or dissolution judgment shall not be considered by the court for determining the payor’s capability to pay alimony post retirement.

If you have any questions in reference to NJ alimony reform and retirement, call Peter Van Aulen today at (201) 845-7400 for a free 30 minute in office consultation.

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