Alimony Modification and Termination
Alimony is not forever. Alimony can end in different ways. NJSA 2A:34-25 is the statute that sets forth the different ways in which alimony/spousal support will end. These include:
- Alimony will end if after the Judgment of Divorce the former spouse who receives alimony remarries or enters into a civil union. This provision only applies to alimony awards of open durational or limited duration (term) support. Where the alimony is rehabilitative or restitutional, there would need to be an agreement by the former spouses or good cause shown to end support.
- The death of either former spouse.
- The end of the term period for payment of support.
Alimony and Retirement
When the alimony is open durational alimony, it is subject to modification or termination upon the retirement of the person who is paying support. According to the Alimony Statute, NJSA 2A:34-23 j(1), there is a rebuttable presumption that the support will terminate upon the paying former spouse reaches full retirement age. This is the age that the former spouse needs to be to receive full retirement benefits under Social Security.
This rebuttable presumption may be overcome if after assessing the factors listed below, it is determined spousal support should continue.
- The ages of the former spouses at the time of the application for retirement.
- The ages of the former spouses when they married and when they divorced/alimony was awarded.
- The level and length of time of the economic dependency of the person receiving alimony upon the person paying support during the marriage.
- Whether the person receiving support waived, relinquished or otherwise “sacrificed” his or her claims in exchange for a more substantial or longer length of alimony.
- The length of time that alimony was paid.
- The health of both former spouses at the time the application for retirement was made.
- The assets of each former spouse at the time the application for retirement was made.
- Whether the person receiving alimony has reached full retirement age.
- The sources of income of each former spouse.
- The ability of the person receiving support to have saved adequately for retirement.
- Any other factors deemed relevant by the Court.
The court will not consider the assets that were divided during the marriage for the purposes of determining the ability of the person who pays alimony to be able to continue to pay support after he or she is retired.
Spousal support may be modified upon a change in circumstances. This usually applies when someone loses a job or suffers a major illness and is no longer able to work. Alimony may also be modified if the person who receives support has a significant increase in income where the payment of support is no longer needed. These are the factor that the court will consider in determining whether alimony should be modified.
- Reasons for loss of income/employment.
- The paying spouse’s efforts to obtain replacement employment or pursue alternate employment.
- The paying spouse’s food faith to find employment.
- The income, circumstances and efforts of the paying spouse to obtain employment in light of those circumstances and opportunities.
- The health of the paying spouse.
- If the paying spouse was awarded a severance in connection with the loss of employment.
- Changes in the financial circumstances of each of the parties that have occurred since the application to modify support.
- Reasons for the changes in financial circumstances.
- Whether it is appropriate for a temporary remedy contingent upon terms which can include the continued efforts of the paying spouse to regain employment.
- Any other factors that the Court deems fair and just.
Alimony can be modified or terminated at any time by agreement of the former spouses. The loss of employment alone does not automatically mean that alimony will end or be reduced.