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August 6, 2021

When Is a Spouse Entitled to Alimony Under NJ Law?

When Is a Spouse Entitled to Alimony Under NJ Law?

New Jersey courts have the option to award open duration alimony, formerly known as permanent alimony, in cases where the parties were married for more than 20 years and the financially disadvantaged spouse has very limited earning potential.  

In most cases of permanent alimony, the recipient spouse dependent financially on the paying spouse throughout the marriage and was close to retirement age when the parties divorced, so that even if they started working after the divorce, they would need alimony in order to have a lifestyle comparable to what they had during the marriage.  

In rare instances, courts award long term alimony after marriages that lasted less than17 years; in almost all of these cases; the recipient spouse cannot work because of a disability.  Remember that permanent alimony is the exception rather than the rule.  If you think permanent alimony is appropriate in your case, contact a Red Bank divorce mediator.

Real Cases Where New Jersey Courts Awarded Longer terms of alimony

These are some examples from New Jersey case law where a court had to decide whether to award longer terms of alimony:

●     Bonnie and Biagio divorced after 31 years.  The court ordered permanent alimony, because Biagio earned more money as a small business owner than Bonnie did as a city employee.  Biagio retired when he was no longer healthy enough to work, and he petitioned the court to terminate his alimony obligations.  The court sided with him when it determined that Bonnie could support herself without alimony from Biagio; many of the expenses she claimed on her financial documents went to supporting the couple’s adult daughter and minor grandson, and these are not valid expenses for determining alimony.

 ●     Stella and Edmund were married for 16 years. When they divorced, Stella, who had multiple sclerosis, was in her 60sand used a wheelchair.  The court ruled that the couple’s prenuptial agreement, in which Stella waived her right to seek alimony, was unconscionable because it would leave Stella destitute while Edmund was wealthy.  The court ordered Edmund to set up a trust from which to make Stella’s alimony payments.

  ●     Barbara and Ted divorced after 23 years, and for the first 14 years after the divorce, Ted made permanent alimony payments. Barbara lived below her means, investing much of the alimony she received and moving to Wisconsin, where the cost of living is lower.  When Ted was laid off from his job, Barbara agreed to reduce the alimony amount by 20 percent.  Ted went to court to further reduce the alimony, but the parties disagreed about whether he was voluntarily unemployed or simply unable to find a new job due to age discrimination.

The only thing these couples have in common is that the parties were over age 50 when they divorced.  No two permanent alimony cases are alike.

Contact a New Jersey Lawyer and Divorce Mediator

A divorce lawyer can help you obtain what you are entitled to if you are unable to work because of your age or health.  Contact the Law Office of Judie Saunders in Red Bank, New Jersey to set up a free consultation.


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