How Can I End, Modify, or Reduce Alimony?
New relationships can affect divorce-related issues, including alimony, child support, and even child custody.
After a divorce, people are often excited to move on with their regular lives which include dating, it is important to be careful with new relationships after a New Jersey divorce.
What Are the Kinds of Alimony in New Jersey?
If you are requesting alimony, the judge may award you one (or any combination) of five types of support: temporary (pendente lite), limited duration, rehabilitative, reimbursement, or permanent alimony.
Pendente lite alimony is the only type available while the divorce is pending. The court awards this temporary support when one spouse is financially dependent on the other and needs help to cover living expenses during the divorce.
Judges will award limited-duration alimony in cases where the supported spouse needs time to become self-supporting after the divorce. The court will typically include a list of conditions for support, which the spouse must meet or risk the court terminating the award.
Rehabilitative alimony is available in cases where the dependent spouse needs financial support while acquiring job training or education that will lead to employment and financial independence. The court requires the recipient to show the scope of rehabilitation, the steps necessary, and the time frame for the support.
The court will award reimbursement alimony if one spouse financially supported the other by helping support the other through an advanced education during the marriage and expected to benefit from the education. For example, if you supported your spouse through law school, but divorced before you could reap any financial benefits from it, the court may order your spouse to pay you back.
Permanent alimony is less common than the others, and courts typically reserve it for long-term marriages where a dependent spouse is unable to become self-supporting. Despite the name of the support, it’s rarely permanent and only continues for as long as the recipient has a valid reason why financial independence is impossible.
How Do I Modify My Alimony?
In 2014, the NJ Legislature passed the Alimony Reform Act and radically altered divorce law in New Jersey.
Prior to the passage of the Alimony Reform Act, anyone who got divorced and was looking to get out of paying court-ordered alimony needed to prove that their ex-spouse was cohabitating, or living with, a new partner on a full-time basis.
Cohabitation is a factor on which New Jersey alimony suspension or termination requests are frequently based. In order to reduce or even terminate a spousal support award due to cohabitation by the dependent spouse, the relationship at issue must be tantamount to marriage. Simply securing a roommate to reduce costs will not normally rise to the level of cohabitation. Relevant factors to consider include sharing a common residence, assisting one another with household chores, romantic involvement, and recognition of the couple’s relationship in the social or family circle. In addition, a cohabiting couple’s economic interdependence, such as shared financial accounts or assets and any financial contributions made towards household expenses, also play a role in whether a New Jersey court will choose to modify or terminate spousal support.
As a result of the Alimony Reform Act, things are far easier for a divorced spouse to put a stop to costly alimony payments. That is because the law loosely defined “cohabitation” to include couples who do not necessarily live together all the time. Specifically, the law defined cohabitation as “a mutually supportive, intimate relationship.”
Generally speaking, an individual is not required to support his or her former spouse after the ex-spouse enters a new marital relationship. If an individual who is receiving spousal support remarries, any alimony award will usually be terminated and may not be reinstated at a later time if the dependent spouse’s subsequent marriage may later end in divorce. A payer’s remarriage or cohabitation, however, will not change his or her obligation to pay alimony.
If there are objections to the change, the party requesting the change must file a motion with the court. That motion must describe the change in circumstance. It must also show that the change was involuntary, permanent, substantial, and unanticipated.
These are some of the possible situations that might lead someone to file a motion to modify or terminate spousal support:
- Your income decreased substantially.
- Your ex-spouse remarried.
- The cost of living rose substantially.
- Your income depended on a business that failed.
- The income of your ex-spouse substantially increased.
- Your compensation package lost a lot of its value.
- You recently retired.
- You developed an illness or disability that affects your ability to earn money.
When Does Alimony End?
There are three guaranteed ways for an existing alimony agreement to be terminated in New Jersey.
- Alimony payee remarries or enters a civil union. This only applies to open duration and limited duration alimony agreements. While it is possible to terminate rehabilitative or reimbursement alimony on the basis of re-marriage, this action is less common.
- Either alimony payor or payee dies.
- Your alimony agreement reaches its set termination date, or your balance is paid in full. For non-open duration agreements, both parties may agree to “settle” your alimony agreement and pay off the balance early.
Where Do I Get Help?
Divorce is complicated and divorce-related issues can continue long after the actual divorce has been filed. If you need help with alimony, child custody, or other divorce issues, the law offices of Edward Cooper, Esq are ready to meet your unique needs.
Our experienced and successful family law and divorce attorneys will listen and communicate with you every step of the way. We are here to help you. Fill out our online form or by call at (908) 481-4625.