Retirement and Alimony Obligation Reduction

Landers v. Landers Docket No. A-1798-18T1 Decided April 20, 2020

Submitted by New Jersey Family Law Firm, Hark and Hark.

In a recent unpublished decision, the Appellate Division reviewed a court ordered reduction of alimony to $500 per month as a result of retirement, despite defendant having $1.7 million net worth, while plaintiff’s income was almost zero.

In Landers, the parties were married for 22 years and defendant was required to pay alimony as a result of the divorce.  Defendant remarried, plaintiff did not.  After paying alimony for 14 years, defendant filed a motion to terminate his alimony obligation.

The judge reviewed updated Case Information Statements (CIS), conducted a full trial/hearing, and took testimony.   The trial judge examined Schedules A, B, and C of the plaintiff’s CIS, finding that it was unreasonable for plaintiff to spend $744 per year to maintain a driver’s license and registration.  The judge found plaintiff’s income to be almost zero.  The judge also examined defendant’s CIS Schedule A, B, and C and found defendant lived modest.  She also found that defendant did not have a part time job, despite defendant’s claim to plaintiff that he would maintain one.

Plaintiff argued that defendant’s $1.7 million net worth should be considered for an alimony termination or modification.  The trial judge excluded most of the amounts the plaintiff contributed to defendant, as they were contributions made by defendant’s current wife.  Examining only the income and assets that defendant contributes, the trial court found that reducing defendant’s alimony to $500 per month was reasonable.

If you are considering retirement and you have an alimony obligation, you should contact an experienced matrimonial attorney to review your matter to ensure that you are retiring at the correct time, and that your situation is reviewed fairly.  If you have remarried, your spouse’s contributions should not be considered when recalculating or terminating alimony.

On the other hand, if your ex-spouse has filed to terminate alimony due to retirement, you should contact an experienced matrimonial attorney to review the matter to ensure that alimony is not terminated prematurely.  The retirement must be made in good faith, and all the ex-spouse’s earnings and assets should be considered.

At Hark & Hark, we help clients with divorce, custody, domestic violence, child support, alimony issues and more.  Modification in child support and alimony are some of the most difficult motions to be successful.  If you believe your circumstances warrant either an increase or a decrease or termination of child support or alimony, contact us immediately.

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Michael J. Collis, Esquire

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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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