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How Long Will My Spousal Support Last?
Are you considering—or in the midst of—a divorce? Does the idea of paying or receiving spousal support fill you with anxiety? Understanding how spousal support in New Jersey works will answer many of your questions, especially when you consult with an experienced attorney.
If you must pay spousal support, you’re likely worried about how long you’ll have to pay. If you receive spousal support, you probably want to know how long you can expect financial assistance. Here’s a rundown of how spousal support in New Jersey works and what you need to know about it if you’re involved in a divorce proceeding.
There’s No Permanent Spousal Support
First, you must understand that when there was permanent spousal support, it was never really permanent. Prior to 2014, the legal term “permanent alimony” led to a lot of confusion and misunderstandings in the system.
Then, New Jersey’s 2014 Alimony Reform Act changed the name from “permanent” to “open duration” alimony. This bill also helped to clarify specific rules and regulations about alimony and when it can be awarded.
Is Open Durational Alimony Another Way of Saying ‘Permanent Spousal Support’?
In New Jersey, the policy used to be that spouses could receive alimony for the duration of their life. However, the previously mentioned law changed this to open duration alimony.
Spousal support basically works like this:
- If a couple has been together (either through marriage or a civil union) for more than 20 years, then there’s no end to the alimony payments unless certain conditions are met. These conditions include that the person receiving the spousal support remarries. It can also end (or be adjusted) depending on conditions such as the ex-spouse’s employment status.
- If a couple has been together (either through marriage or a civil union) for less than 20 years, then one of the spouses can be awarded open duration alimony if the judge deems him or her to be financially dependent on the other spouse. This spousal support will also end if the partner receiving the support remarries. But it’ll only last the exact same number of years as the marriage. So, if a couple was married for five years, then the spouse would receive alimony for five years, and then it would be terminated.
Can My Ex Just Never Live With Someone to Make Me Pay Spousal Support Forever?
One of the most common reasons why spousal support stops is if the person receiving the support remarries (or begins cohabitating with a new partner). However, some people have the idea that if they don’t move in with their new partner entirely, then they can receive alimony indefinitely.
This isn’t necessarily true. In fact, even if the new couple doesn’t move in together, they can be considered cohabitating if the court deems it so. To end alimony because of this, you’d have to go back to court and show the following which will be taken into consideration:
- How long the new couple has been together;
- If the new couple is living together;
- If the new couple has intermingled their finances (such as having a common checking account, for example);
- If the new couple shares living expenses (such as having a joint phone plan, for example);
- If the new couple’s relationship is recognized by others (friends and family); and
- If the new partner promises to support the individual receiving alimony.
Can Alimony Be Modified?
If you’re ordered to pay alimony, it may seem like you’ll be stuck forever paying it. However, there are events that could modify the spousal support order.
For instance, if you lose your job, retire, become disabled, or suffer a serious health problem, then your finances will change drastically. In these cases, you can ask the court to lower your spousal support payments. If a person is unemployed or is self-employed and earning less, then they must show that their income loss is involuntary and not done just to get out of paying alimony.
You can file for a modification of spousal support after 90 days of experiencing a loss in finances. In order to receive the modification, the court will want the following information:
- Your new income;
- What caused your income loss;
- Your ex’s income;
- If your ex has actively sought to find employment; and
- If you’ve actively sought to find employment.
All of this will be considered when determining if the court will order a modification.
Reduce Your Stress—Get Legal Support for Your Spousal Support Case
Spousal support is a huge anxiety for many people when it comes to divorce. Popular culture created the stereotype of the husband who must pay spousal support until his dying day to his wife.
But the reality is much different. In New Jersey, the rules of spousal support actually means that you most likely won’t have to pay forever. Working with an experienced family law attorney ensures you’ll focus on the best outcome in your unique situation.
Contact the Knowledgeable Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Woodbury, NJ Today
If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, you’ll also most likely be dealing with another matter like alimony, child custody, child support, or division of assets, so you’ll need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Runnemede, and Westville. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.
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.