If you are contemplating divorce, the laws that apply may be different from what you expect. One area in particular that many people find confusing is alimony, or spousal support. A primary reason for this confusion is that the laws regarding alimony have changed considerably in New Jersey. For example, the concept of permanent alimony—that is, alimony that continues until death or remarriage—has changed dramatically. If you need guidance regarding this issue, Bergen County alimony attorney Howard B. Leopold can assist you. He has extensive experience serving clients throughout Northern New Jersey.Understanding When Permanent Alimony Applies in New Jersey
The reason why divorce laws have changed significantly in the last few decades is that marriage and divorce have changed significantly. Both spouses often work now, and it is not unusual for wives to out-earn their husbands. Also, it is not uncommon for people to have been married and divorced multiple times.
Alimony laws have changed to reflect these new realities, and the whole concept of alimony has a different aim than it once did. Rather than being rooted in the idea that a husband should support his wife and children indefinitely, alimony is now an arrangement meant to minimize any immediate adverse financial consequences of the divorce for either spouse. Thus, New Jersey now recognizes four different types of alimony: rehabilitative, limited durational, reimbursement, and open durational.
Rehabilitative alimony is alimony intended to provide assistance for a limited period, during which the non- or lower-earning spouse is expected to acquire the ability to earn their own living. Limited durational alimony provides financial support for a period no longer than the length of the marriage. Reimbursement alimony is intended to reimburse one spouse for that spouse’s investment of time and effort in increasing the earning capacity of the other spouse, such as when one spouse supports the other’s education. Finally, there is open durational alimony.
Open durational alimony has no set term, and it is granted only for marriages that have lasted 20 years or longer. A typical example is a long-standing marriage in which one spouse stayed at home to raise the children and run the household. In such cases, a non-working spouse has invested most of their productive years in the marriage, and they are unlikely to ever be able to support themselves at the level to which they became accustomed during the marriage.
However, even for open durational alimony, permanency is not a guarantee. When New Jersey enacted reforms in 2014, the term “permanent alimony” was changed to “open durational” alimony to reflect the fact that the law has broadened the ways to modify or terminate alimony.
In general, alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the payee spouse. The payor spouse may also seek, through a court order, to have alimony terminated if the payee spouse is cohabitating with another person in a relationship that involves mutual emotional and financial support. Other events that may warrant applications for modification or termination are when the payor spouse reaches retirement age, or when there is any other substantial change in the financial circumstances of the parties.
Therefore, while open durational alimony may end up being permanent, there are no guarantees that it will remain in place once established.Contact a Bergen County Attorney to Discuss an Alimony Matter
Permanent alimony is no longer the norm in New Jersey. However, it is still possible for alimony to be permanently in place under certain conditions, although it is generally easier than it once was to have alimony modified or terminated. To discuss the support that may be awarded in your divorce, contact Bergen County alimony lawyer Howard B. Leopold. Call (201) 345-5907 or use our online form to arrange a free appointment. Howard B. Leopold represents people who need a divorce attorney throughout Bergen, Essex, Passaic, and Hudson Counties, including in Hackensack, Englewood, Bergenfield, Cliffside Park, Dumont, Edgewater, Elmwood Park, Fair Lawn, Fairview, Fort Lee, Franklin Lakes, Garfield, Glen Rock, Hasbrouck Heights, Hillsdale, Little Ferry, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, New Milford, North Arlington, Oakland, Palisades Park, Paramus, Ramsey, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, Ridgewood, River Edge, Rutherford, Saddle Brook, Teaneck, Tenafly, Wallington, Westwood, Wyckoff, Jersey City, Paterson, and Newark.