Can I Retire Early if I Have an Ongoing Alimony ObligationDecember 6, 2017 by William P. Lemega
The New Jersey Alimony Reform Act of 2014 was signed by Governor Christie on September 10, 2014, and immediately took effect. The new Act changed the landscape and implementation of alimony in a variety of ways. One such way is in relation to an obligor’s request for modification or termination of an initial alimony obligation because he or she would like to retire, not once he or she reaches the reasonable age to do so, but rather earlier than is normal, whether actual or prospective.
N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(j)(2) covers termination of alimony where the obligor seeks same based on his or her early retirement. First and foremost, the statute now stipulates that the obligor (who is in most all cases going to be “the moving party”) has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that his or her prospective or actual early retirement is both reasonable and in good faith.
When an application for early retirement is made, both parties must submit updated Case Information Statements to the court. The court will then analyze eight different factors in determining whether or not the obligor has met that burden as set forth above (that the retirement is in good faith and reasonable). Those factors are:
- The age and health of the parties at the time of the application;
- The obligor’s field of employment and the generally accepted age of retirement for those in that field;
- The age when the obligor becomes eligible for retirement at the obligor’s place of employment, including mandatory retirement dates or the dates upon which continued employment would no longer increase retirement benefits;
- The obligor’s motives in retiring, including any pressures to retire applied by the obligor’s employer or incentive plans offered by the obligor’s employer;
- The reasonable expectations of the parties regarding the retirement during the marriage or civil union and at the time of the divorce or dissolution;
- The ability of the obligor to maintain support payments following retirement, including whether the obligor will continue to be employed part-time or work reduced hours;
- The obligee’s level of financial independence and the financial impact of the obligor’s retirement upon the obligee; and
- Any other relevant factors affecting the obligor’s decision to retire and the parties’ respective financial positions.
The statute goes on to state that “if the obligor intends to retire but has not yet retired, the court shall establish the conditions under which the modification or termination of alimony will be effective. Applicable case law, specifically Mueller v. Mueller, 446 N.J. Super. 582, 144 A.3d 916 (Chan. Div. 2016), indicates that while the statute does not set specific minimum or maximum time tables for obtaining a prospective retirement determination, the court opined that such an application may be appropriate and ripe for judicial review twelve to eighteen months prior to an obligor’s desired retirement date.
If you are pondering early retirement and have an alimony obligation or if you receive alimony and have an ex-spouse that may be thinking the same, call our divorce lawyers in Somerville today. Contact Lyons & Associates by submitting an online inquiry or call our office at 908-575-9777 to schedule an appointment.
Written By: William Lemega, Esq.