If you are ordered to pay alimony, how long do you have to keep paying? If you are receiving alimony, how long can you expect to keep receiving it?
New Jersey overhauled its alimony law in 2014, and many people are still unclear on the answers to these questions.
When is alimony deemed necessary?
Alimony is a court ordered obligation to pay for the support of an ex spouse. Although it’s not as common as it was in the past, alimony is still an important part of many divorce settlements, particularly when the two ex-spouses have different earning capacities.
The goal of alimony is to ensure that one party is not left at an unfair financial disadvantage. Imagine a marriage in which one spouse rose the corporate ladder while the other gave up a promising career in order to stay home with the couple’s children. After they divorce, the corporate officer can continue their high-paying career, while the stay-at-home parent must find work after being out of the job market for several years.
No permanent alimony
The 2014 overhaul of New Jersey’s alimony law ended the practice of so-called permanent alimony. For divorces after 2014, the obligation to pay alimony lasts only until certain milestones are met. A court may set a time limit, or the parties may agree to a deadline in their settlement.
Even if the deadline has not yet passed, an alimony obligation ends when the receiving party remarries or starts cohabitating with a new partner. It may also end when the paying party retires.
Even the most carefully arranged alimony plan can become unworkable when circumstances change. If a paying party loses a job, or otherwise becomes unable to pay, they can request a modification.
Alimony is a technically difficult issue. It’s also something that can provoke ugly arguments. A lawyer can help paying parties or receiving parties understand their rights and options.