Articles Tagged with nj alimony law

In 2014 the New Jersey legislature amended the statutes that relate to alimony. Prior to the amendments, a person paying alimony had to actually retire before he or she could ask the court to modify the alimony. That made it difficult for the person paying alimony to plan for his or her post-retirement finances. Under the amended law, the payor can seek an order modifying or terminating the alimony order based on a plan to retire before actually retiring–allowing the prospective retiree to better plan for the future.

The New Jersey Superior Court addressed the issue of when a motion to modify alimony is timely based on prospective retirement in the April 2016 case of Mueller v. Mueller. In Mueller, the parties were married for 20 years before they divorced in 2006. Thereafter, Gordon Mueller paid Rosemary Mueller $300 per week in alimony, the amount agreed upon in the parties matrimonial settlement agreement. Gordon sought a court order that says that his alimony obligation will terminate upon his retirement under the new law. Gordon was 57 at the time he sought the court order, and planned to retire in 5 years when he was 62 years old.

As a threshold matter, the court discussed that the agreement was entered into well before the amendment. The court found that this case fell under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(j)(3), which covers alimony agreements that were entered into before the effective date of the amended statute, which is September 10, 2014. The age at which Gordon planned to retire was 62, which is not  the “full retirement age” defined by the Social Security Act, so the case would be covered by the section of the statute that deals with early retirement. Once determining that the statute applied to this case, the court could consider the factors listed in the statute in order to determine if it would be equitable for the alimony to be modified or terminated. Continue reading

On September 10, 2014, the New Jersey alimony laws changed, making a serious change on the prior state of the law. One seemingly small part of the statute now creates a scenario whereby it is presumed that alimony will terminate upon retirement, unless the person receiving alimony proves that it should not be terminated. The new law has shifted what is called the “burden of proof.” The earlier statute put the burden on the person paying alimony to prove termination of alimony was the correct result, now, the burden is shifted to the one receiving the alimony to prove it should not end.

The changes discussed are those where full retirement age has been reached and not situations dealing with early retirement. A reduction of income based upon what is often referred to as “good faith retirement,” after age 65, has long been considered a change of circumstances that warrant Court review of the financial situation of the parties to determine whether modification of the alimony award is appropriate.

The New Jersey Appellate Division had the opportunity to explain when portions of the new statute, NJ 2A:34-23(j), must be applied. In the case of in the case of Landers v. Landers. The Court made clear that subsection (j)(3) sets the standard for to be applied to final alimony awards issued prior to the amendment, placing the burden of proof on the party receiving alimony to show the modification or termination should not be granted. Continue reading

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Peter Van Aulen is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Attorney.

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