Arons & Solomon | September 20, 2022 | Family Law
You may think your alimony payments will never end. If you live in New Jersey, that could be the case. New Jersey alimony laws allow for permanent alimony payments. However, there are ways to modify and terminate permanent alimony payments.
Does New Jersey Permit Lifetime Spousal Support or Permanent Alimony Payments?
New Jersey law does not typically permit judges to order alimony or spousal support for a period lasting longer than the marriage if the parties were married less than 20 years. The court considers numerous factors to determine the amount of alimony payments and the duration of those payments.
The types of alimony awarded in New Jersey are:
- Reimbursement alimony
- Rehabilitative alimony
- Limited duration alimony
- Open durational alimony (replaced the term “permanent alimony”)
Courts only order permanent alimony in exceptional situations. If your situation resulted in permanent spousal support payments, you might be able to modify or terminate permanent alimony in some cases.
Situations That Would Allow You to Terminate or Modify Permanent Alimony in NJ
Permanent alimony is referred to as open durational alimony in New Jersey. The payments do not have a specific ending date. Permanent alimony is only granted for parties that have been married for more than 20 years or for exceptional circumstances in other cases.
If there is a significant change in circumstances, a court may modify or terminate permanent alimony.
Situations that could justify a modification or termination of open durational alimony include:
- Your ex-spouse remarries, which ends or terminates permanent alimony
- Your ex-spouse moves in with another person (cohabitates) to engage in a long-term romantic relationship
- Your ex-spouse dies, causing support payments to terminate
- You cannot work because you become disabled, especially if you receive a Social Security determination of disability
- You permanently lose your job for reasons that are not voluntary, or you experience another catastrophic financial crisis with long-term implications for your finances
- You reach full retirement age, or you can prove that a request for early retirement is made in good faith
- Your ex-spouse becomes financially independent
It is important to remember that you should not stop paying alimony if you believe you have a reason to modify or terminate the payments. Instead, you should contact a Bergen County spousal support lawyer to discuss the steps to modify or terminate support payments.
Except for the death of your ex-spouse, you will likely need to file a motion to modify support payments with the court. The court schedules a hearing, and your ex-spouse receives notice of the hearing.
At the hearing, you have the burden of proving that a substantial change in circumstances justifies modifying the amount or terminating support payments. Your ex-spouse can present evidence refuting your allegations.
If the judge rules in your favor, your permanent alimony payments should cease or decrease in amount. The first step is to contact an alimony lawyer in Bergen County to discuss your situation.
In some cases, you and your ex-spouse might be able to negotiate an agreement to modify permanent alimony. If so, you can present the agreement to the court to be incorporated in a modification order.
What Are the Exceptional Circumstances That Warrant Permanent Alimony Payments in New Jersey?
The change in spousal support laws in New Jersey was intended to provide fair rules for alimony in the state. The changes also clarified when a judge could order permanent alimony.
Exceptional circumstances under state law that can justify awarding a spouse permanent alimony payments include:
- The tax considerations of either spouse
- The ages of the spouses when they were married and their ages when alimony is awarded
- The impact of the marriage on either spouse’s ability to be self-supporting, such as a spouse’s responsibility as the primary caregiver for a child
- The duration and degree of any dependency of either spouse on the other spouse during their marriage
- Whether one of the spouses has received an unequal share of the marital property
- Whether a spouse has an unusual health condition or chronic illness
- Whether a spouse gave up their career or a career opportunity to support the career of the other spouse
A judge may also consider any other circumstances and factors that they find relevant, equitable, and material to the issue of spousal support.
Lifetime alimony payments can place an undue hardship on the paying spouse. Various changes in a person’s life can significantly impact their ability to afford alimony payments. If you are struggling to make spousal payments, seek legal advice before falling behind on the payments and facing penalties for failing to pay alimony.
Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help
Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule a free consultation with our team.