New Alimony Rules

Permanent Alimony, Changed Circumstances, Cohabitation & Retirement

This is a perfect time to review the new alimony rules signed into law late last year, making four fundamental changes to New Jersey alimony rules.  First, permanent alimony has been replaced by “durational alimony.”  Second, rules relating to the retirement of the obligor/payor have been established.  Third, in this enlightened age of civil unions, the new law defines and provides guidance with respect to “cohabitation.”  Lastly, the law provides some clarity with respect to “changed circumstances.”

For marriages of less than 20 years, the duration of alimony may not exceed the period of the marriage.  With respect to retirement, alimony ceases when the obligor reaches “normal retirement age” based upon the Social Security Administration rules, which, in turn, are based upon an individual’s date of birth.  The new law also addresses situations when the obligor/payor retires prior to the normal retirement age.  In general, alimony ceases upon cohabitation, as newly defined.  With respect to changed circumstances, new procedures are established whereby the obligor may petition the court after 90 days of reduced income or unemployment.

All four basic changes provide factors or circumstances to overcome what are rebuttable presumptions, but, notably, the law also allows the court wide discretion with respect to other factors/circumstances which may overcome the rebuttable presumptions. The new open durational rule applies to judgments of divorces on/after September 10, 2014.  The new retirement rules apply to retired obligors and obligors retiring on or after September 10, 2014 and the new rules regarding changed circumstances apply to applications submitted on or after September 10, 2014, as long as these issues are not addressed in a Final Judgment of Divorce, Settlement Agreement or any enforceable written agreement between the parties.

If you would like a copy of our quick reference guide to the new alimony rules, please email me at Jcipolla@cipollacpa.com.

Cipolla is frequently a court-appointed neutral, acting, in effect, as a consultant to the court, which sometimes leads to an expert report and related testimony when the non-neutral financial forensic experts are far apart in terms of their opinions and conclusions.  We perform this forensic accounting function in business divorce, matrimonial, commercial litigation, fraud investigations (including white-collar and tax

investigations) and personal injury claims, as well as in Bankruptcy Court and insolvency proceedings.  With respect to matrimonial litigation, we frequently value businesses and perform income and lifestyle analysis, including a savings component, to help determine alimony (including changed circumstances) and Pendente Lite support.  We also frequently conduct net worth analysis and asset tracing to determine exempt or immune assets for purposes of equitable distribution.

Cipolla has been involved with tax and white-collar criminal defense, forensic accounting, valuation and damages assessment for over three decades and, according to the New Jersey Law Journal readership survey, was recognized as the best matrimonial financial expert, the best economic damages accounting firm and the best business valuation firm, and one of the top forensic accounting firms, litigation accounting firms and business accounting firms in the New York Metropolitan area.  At Cipolla & Co., “we peel the onion” to provide thoughtful, comprehensive and thoroughly researched opinions and conclusions.  www.cipollacpa.com