Post Retirement Modification of Alimony Settlements in Passaic County NJ
Alimony Attorneys Providing Counsel to clients across New Jersey and Passaic County, including Wayne, Clifton, Little Falls, West Milford, and Woodland Park
In New Jersey, there are several different types of alimony, and in certain cases, more than one type of alimony may be necessary. In Glass v Glass, 366 N.J. Super. 357 marriage was described as an “adaptive economic and social partnership.” Today, it is possible for one alimony to begin as the other is terminated and for two different types of alimony to be combined for a specific period of time. As a payor gets closer to retirement, they will often seek an alimony modification to their original alimony settlement. A change in circumstances such as retirement generally warrants re-evaluating the previous alimony and spousal support agreement. This may be problematic as the payor is still legally obligated to make their regular payments until the petition’s outcome is determined.
Why Modifying an Alimony and Spousal Support Order in Clifton, NJ, can seem like a Second Divorce.
New Jersey law says alimony’s main purpose is to allow a spouse who was financially dependent on sharing in the total assets that were accumulated during the marriage. Petitions to reduce alimony can be as difficult and as emotionally charged as the divorce itself. For many, it may be seen as Part II of the original divorce filing.
Any party having felt taken advantage of in the initial alimony and spousal support order may feel the need to dig their heels in for this new fight. New Jersey Family courts carefully review each retirement-based alimony reduction petition on a case by case basis. The courts will also examine each party’s case information statements, medical records, retirement reason(s), and the ability to continue working to determine the pertinent facts of the case.
You owe it to yourself to speak with a skilled and experienced alimony modification attorney to understand your rights and likelihood of success on a motion to modify or terminate your alimony obligation.
Can my temporary award be converted to permanent alimony in towns like Little Falls or Woodland Park, NJ?
Yes. If you’re a spouse who’s financially dependent on the other spouse, it´s possible to convert rehabilitative and limited-duration alimony to permanent alimony. One possibility is if, as the dependent spouse, you don’t have any reasonable opportunities of becoming self-sufficient enough to achieve the economic standard of living both you and your ex-spouse enjoyed during the marriage.
If you’ve been awarded rehabilitative alimony and you think you should have been given permanent alimony, speak with an experienced family law attorney who can help you file your application (legal paperwork) to convert that award to permanent alimony.
Will I need to file a Lepis Hearing to show “changed circumstances” in Wayne, NJ?
According to Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139 alimony awards can be modified upon showing a “changed circumstance.” The party seeking to modify the alimony obligation has the burden of demonstrating the “changed circumstance,” and if said, “changed circumstance” justifies the relief requested. A Lepis application generally gets a hearing date 3-4 months after filing. Complexities of the case, the number of witnesses, and other factors could mean the case will be heard over several months, thus increasing lawyer and court fees.
The Supreme Court of New Jersey recognizes the following “changed circumstances”: 1) an increase in the cost of living; 2) any fluctuation in the supporting spouse’s income; and 3) the dependent spouse’s cohabitation with another.
New Jersey’s Alimony Statute, N.J.S.A 2A:34-23(j) allows you and your Passaic alimony attorney to petition for an alimony modification that can help you gain the most accurate possible understanding of your finances. This statute discusses how alimony may be modified or terminated upon the obligor’s prospective or actual retirement. Thereby empowering you to move forward with your retirement plan, secure in knowing that your alimony payments will reflect your reduced income.
As the payor, if the courts deny your alimony payment modification petition, you may elect to continue working until you have saved enough money towards your future payments and your own retirement plan.
My spouse just took early retirement. Can I file an alimony modification petition?
If a payor spouse retires before 65, they are often subjected to a stricter standard to have alimony modified or terminated. The critical question is whether the payor is retiring voluntarily, mandatory, or for some reason (e.g., injury or illness). Once key issues are determined to provide additional information on the early retirement, the court will balance the advantages to the payor spouse against the disadvantage to the payee spouse.
If the benefits to the retiring spouse significantly outweigh the disadvantages, the court views retirement as a legitimate change of circumstances, thus justifying a modification of alimony. Alimony payments are tax-deductible to the paying spouse and reportable as income by the receiving spouse.
Which legal test does the court in Passaic County use to assess if early retirement constitutes a “change of circumstances” to reduce alimony?
Dilger v. Dilger, 242 N.J. 380. Although Dilger had a pre-existing alimony obligation to his former wife of 30 years, he voluntarily retired at 62 years. After seeking to reduce his alimony based on this changed circumstance, the court determined that his voluntary retirement at 62 was not made in good faith. It was unreasonable under all of the circumstances he presented.
By denying his petition, the court considered various criteria:
- If the retirement was made in good faith.
- If, in light of all of the surrounding circumstances, it was reasonable for the supporting former spouse to elect early retirement.
- The reasonable expectations of the parties at the time of the agreement.
- If the obligor/paying spouse was planning retirement at a particular age.
- What opportunity was given to the dependent spouse to prepare to live on the reduced support.
Contact a Woodland Park Alimony Modifications Attorney
Our attorneys atThe Montanari Law Group have extensive experience representing clients during the alimony modification process regarding “changed circumstances” in towns across New Jersey and Passaic County, including Wayne, Clifton, Little Falls, West Milford, and Woodland Park.
Our firm believes that by listening closely to our client’s unique needs and concerns in any legal matter and keeping them highly informed and involved throughout the legal process, we can better work to achieve the type of resolution which most accurately reflects those same needs and concerns, and protect the legal and financial futures of our clients and their families.
To discuss your case with one of our knowledgeable Passaic County divorce attorneys, contact us online or give us a call at (973) 233-4396 for a free initial consultation. We offer flexible appointment options and in-person appointments at our centrally-located office in Little Falls, New Jersey.