New Jersey Alimony Modification After September 2014
When the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act of 2014 was signed, it changed many long-standing alimony rules. As a result, many people are filing post-judgment motions to modify their alimony terms. A common question we get is whether people are eligible for modification of alimony due to these changes.
What did the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act of 2014 change?
Some of the major changes this bill enacted include:
- The length of alimony payments can no longer exceed the length of the marriage, except in “exceptional circumstances” as determined by a judge. This applies to any marriage lasting less than 20 years. This change is not retroactive; it applies only to couples that were divorced after the law was passed in September 2014.
- A judge can end alimony payments if the recipient of the payments lives with a partner (called ‘cohabitation’) even if they are not married. Cohabitation guidelines are stricter and more specific than they were before.
- If you become unemployed, you must wait at least 90 days before you can file a motion to modify your alimony obligation. At that time, a judge may temporarily reduce or suspend your payments pending a plenary hearing (a trial limited to the issue of alimony) or settlement.
- The term “permanent” alimony has been replaced with the term “open-durational” alimony. The alimony payor can apply to have alimony modified or terminated when they reach their normal Social Security Retirement Age. This age is increasing incrementally and can be found on the Social Security website using the payor’s birthdate.
- The court must now consider how much temporary support, or “pendente lite” support, if any, was paid prior to the Final Judgment of Divorce when determining an appropriate alimony amount and term.
Who do these changes apply to?
Critics of the bill claim that it does not go far enough to help people who were currently paying alimony when it was passed. For the most part, the changes apply only to couples who had not yet received a Final Judgment of Divorce when the law was passed, meaning they were in the middle of a divorce when it was passed or divorced afterwards.
However, if you have legitimate reasons for modifying or terminating alimony under the new rules, such as cohabitation or retirement, and your Final Judgement of Divorce does not instruct on how to proceed in these circumstances, you may have grounds for an alimony modification.
Contact Us Today
If you believe you have a case for alimony modification or termination as a result of the September 2014 New Jersey Alimony Reform Act, contact Katherine K. Wagner today. We will give your case the thorough, careful attention it deserves to make sure your rights are protected.