When Do Alimony Payments Stop in New Jersey?

Spousal support is an issue at the forefront of our clients’ minds when they walk through our doors at their first meeting. Some are worried about the prospect of losing a sizable chunk of their income for the foreseeable future. Others worry that the divorce will leave them penniless and unable to live on their own. At the heart of the issue is a broken system in New Jersey that’s in desperate need of reform. The crux of the issue is a question many divorcees are asking: once the court rules on spousal support, does it ever stop? Our attorneys explain.

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Permanent Alimony Laws in New Jersey

While reforms are in various stages of proposals in the state legislature, in the current client the courts have the power to grant alimony without end. That’s right, you could end up paying your ex spouse money every month until you’re both dead and gone — even if you remarry. The current laws are so draconian they’ve encouraged courts to ignore changing income levels of breadwinners over time, and have even landed a few in jail when they became unemployed or retired and experienced a significant income drop. While long-term alimony does have a place for couples who have been married for decades, it seems less relevant for those couples who do not have a lengthy history or established support structure. Get rid of it.

The Problem with Alimony Rules

One rule that sticks out in the statutes is the provision that allows the courts to award permanent alimony to a spouse who will never earn more money than her partner. That’s great for older spouses who stayed home to raise the kids and now don’t have the educational tools or work experience to land gainful employment, but what about the spouse who’s partner is a hedge fund manager or c-level executive? The breadwinner is punished ad infinitum for being one of the most successful in their chosen field.

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How to Stop Spousal Support Payments in New Jersey

Stopping alimony becomes vital if you’re about to retire or recently lost your full-time position and have experienced a sudden decline in your income. Missing payments can mean jail time, so how do you alter the agreement?

You’re going to need the services of an experienced family law attorney to make your case to the court. Stopping alimony payments requires compelling evidence attesting to your own changing income, your ex spouse’s earning power and their relationship status. If your spouse is in a new committed relationship where they’re living with their significant other, that can be compelling evidence to end support depending on their combined income. Of course, if you had knowledgeable lawyers during your divorce proceeding, you may have been able to include language in the agreement that identifies a “drop dead” date for support. That clause would’ve alleviated, or at least softened, your problems going forward.

Suffering under the crushing weight of spousal support? Contact our law offices today for an in-depth review of your dissolution of marriage agreement. We’ll work together to get you out from under your unreasonable alimony obligation.