The New Jersey Alimony Reform Act and Alimony Payers’ Rights
Many divorcing couples in New Jersey have questions about spousal support before the divorce. A recent case in Morristown considered when it’s appropriate to stop paying alimony to an ex-spouse with a new relationship.
In 2007, a New Jersey couple divorced after 22 years of marriage. One spouse has paid the other alimony ever since. However, with the enactment of the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act (N.J.S.2A:34-23, September 2014), alimony payers were provided with new rights.
In this example, the ex-husband asked the court to consider whether his ex-wife and her boyfriend are “engaged in cohabitation” so that he could stop paying her alimony.
The ex-wife’s attorney said that the woman and her new partner are in a dating relationship. They see each other approximately three times each week. He argued that because the couple maintains individual residences and don’t share financial responsibilities or household duties, the ex-wife should continue to receive alimony.
In addition, the ex-wife’s attorney argued the ex-husband’s premise is worrisome because, if he wins the lawsuit, many divorced women might refrain from making new dating relationships out of concerns about alimony.
The judge must evaluate eight factors to decide if the couple is “cohabiting” or not. The law says that cohabitation includes joint finances, shared household duties and living expenses, and a “recognized relationship” by the couple’s friends and family. However, the Alimony Reform Act says that the judge may determine that the couple is cohabiting even if they don’t live together in the same place on a full-time basis.
The new law has changed the implementation of alimony in New Jersey, particularly when an ex-spouse wants to modify the initial obligation by agreement or alimony award. Since its passage, many ex-spouses have sought to terminate initial alimony agreements using the new features of the law.
Alimony is a complex topic. The new law can help payers in several important scenarios, including job loss or retirement. If you have questions about alimony and divorce, contact the Law Office of Lois Garber Schwartz, Esq. in Cherry Hill, NJ in confidence at 856-375-8989.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.