Divorce lawyers at the Philadelphia law firm, Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel, LLP, serve clients in the Philadelphia metropolitan area and in the state of New Jersey. In recent months, the state of New Jersey enacted significant changes to their alimony laws. Prior to the enactment of the changes, New Jersey couples married for ten years or more had some predictability in what they could expect to receive and to pay in alimony if ever faced with a divorce. Permanent alimony was traditionally granted in those cases.

With the new legislation, the dependent spouse no longer has these guarantees. Now, for marriages lasting more than twenty years, the dependent spouse may receive “open durational alimony”. This leaves unanswered the question of how long the alimony will last.

For marriages of less than twenty years, the courts can now limit the duration of the alimony award. The new law provides that the duration of alimony should not exceed the duration of the marriage.

Built into the new law is the ability to request a deviation from this general rule under certain circumstances, such as chronic illness of a party or whether one party gave up their career in support of the other’s career. Further, courts may also consider “time served” if one spouse has been paying support during the pendency of the divorce. This provision is meant to dissuade a party from prolonging the divorce process in an attempt to receive more support from the other party.

While the new legislation does take away a dependent spouse’s right to automatic permanent alimony after a period of years, it is more case specific, which allows the courts to tailor alimony obligations to the particular needs of each family.

The law has also created a presumption that alimony should terminate or be modified upon the payer’s full retirement. Full retirement is defined as the age upon which a payer can receive full retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration. In addition, the new statute will take into consideration the reasons for one’s retirement in determining whether to terminate or modify an alimony obligation after retirement.

If you are already paying alimony pursuant to a New Jersey Court Order or Agreement, these changes will not affect your case. However, the law is now in effect and will apply to all future divorce cases. If you have any questions on how the change in the law may affect your case, you should consult with experienced divorce lawyers in Philadelphia at Astor Weiss Kaplan & Mandel. For more information regarding our divorce practices, visit http://www.astorweiss.com/practice-areas/family-law/divorce-lawyer/ or call us at 215-790-0100.