Alimony & Spousal Support

Motion To Terminate Or Modify Alimony/Spousal Support Upon Actual Or Perspective Retirement Under Amended Alimony Statute

Under New Jersey’s recently amended alimony statute N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(j), a party may seek to terminate or modify his or her spousal support obligation based upon an actual or prospective retirement. Plaintiff and defendant married in 1986, and divorced in 2006. Pursuant to the matrimonial settlement agreement, plaintiff agreed to pay defendant $300 per week in permanent alimony. The agreement contained no provision expressly addressing retirement and/or its relationship to plaintiff’s ongoing permanent alimony obligation. Plaintiff filed a post-judgment motion regarding his alimony obligation under the amended alimony statute. He asserted that he was now 57 years old, and that he prospectively planned to retire in five years, when he turned 62 and was then entitled to retire and receive his full employment-related pensions benefit. He sought a court order prospectively holding that his alimony obligation would in fact terminate upon retirement in five year. Plaintiff asserted that if his alimony did not end at that time, he would financially be unable to afford to retire at such age. The court concluded that the legislative intent in the amended alimony statute was to create a mechanism by which a person who is or nearing retirement or early retirement age, and who is desirous of actually retiring in the present or near future, can seek a prospective advance ruling regarding potential termination or modification of his or her alimony obligation. The retirement provisions of the amended alimony statute, however, had a little practical applicability to a situation such as the one here, where there would be no actual or specific proposed retirement for several years, and where the obligor might in fact continue to work even after reaching retirement age. The court denied without prejudice plaintiff’s motion for an order terminating alimony based upon the obligor’s wish to retire in five years’ time.

Reference: Mueller v. Mueller, N.J. Super. Ch. Div. No. 20-4-9397, Case & Analysis, New Jersey Law Journal, 222 N.J.L.J. 1898 (June 13, 2016)

Filed Under: Alimony; Actual or Prospective Retirement

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