Pending any matrimonial action or action for dissolution of a civil union brought in this State or elsewhere, or after judgment of divorce or dissolution or maintenance, whether obtained in this State or elsewhere, the court may make such order as to the alimony or maintenance of the parties, and also as to the care, custody, education and maintenance of the children, or any of them, as the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case shall render fit, reasonable and just, and require reasonable security for the due observance of such orders, including, but not limited to, the creation of trusts or other security devices, to assure payment of reasonably foreseeable medical and educational expenses. Upon neglect or refusal to give such reasonable security, as shall be required, or upon default in complying with any such order, the court may award and issue process for the immediate sequestration of the personal estate, and the rents and profits of the real estate of the party so charged, and appoint a receiver thereof, and cause such personal estate and the rents and profits of such real estate, or so much thereof as shall be necessary, to be applied toward such alimony and maintenance as to the said court shall from time to time seem reasonable and just; or the performance of the said orders may be enforced by other ways according to the practice of the court. Orders so made may be revised and altered by the court from time to time as circumstances may require.
The court may order one party to pay a retainer on behalf of the other for expert and legal services when the respective financial circumstances of the parties make the award reasonable and just. In considering an application, the court shall review the financial capacity of each party to conduct the litigation and the criteria for award of counsel fees that are then pertinent as set forth by court rule. Whenever any other application is made to a court which includes an application for pendente lite or final award of counsel fees, the court shall determine the appropriate award for counsel fees, if any, at the same time that a decision is rendered on the other issue then before the court and shall consider the factors set forth in the court rule on counsel fees, the financial circumstances of the parties, and the good or bad faith of either party. The court may not order a retainer or counsel fee of a party convicted of an attempt or conspiracy to murder the other party to be paid by the party who was the intended victim of the attempt or conspiracy.
The obligation to pay support for a child who has not been emancipated by the court shall not terminate solely on the basis of the child's age if the child suffers from a severe mental or physical incapacity that causes the child to be financially dependent on a parent. The obligation to pay support for that child shall continue until the court finds that the child is relieved of the incapacity or is no longer financially dependent on the parent. However, in assessing the financial obligation of the parent, the court shall consider, in addition to the factors enumerated in this section, the child's eligibility for public benefits and services for people with disabilities and may make such orders, including an order involving the creation of a trust, as are necessary to promote the well-being of the child.
As used in this section "severe mental or physical incapacity" shall not include a child's abuse of, or addiction to, alcohol or controlled substances.
In each case where the court is asked to make an award of alimony, the court shall consider and assess evidence with respect to all relevant statutory factors. If the court determines that certain factors are more or less relevant than others, the court shall make specific written findings of fact and conclusions of law on the reasons why the court reached that conclusion. No factor shall be elevated in importance over any other factor unless the court finds otherwise, in which case the court shall make specific written findings of fact and conclusions of law in that regard.
When a share of a retirement benefit is treated as an asset for purposes of equitable distribution, the court shall not consider income generated thereafter by that share for purposes of determining alimony.
For any marriage or civil union less than 20 years in duration, the total duration of alimony shall not, except in exceptional circumstances, exceed the length of the marriage or civil union. Determination of the length and amount of alimony shall be made by the court pursuant to consideration of all of the statutory factors set forth in subsection b. of this section. In addition to those factors, the court shall also consider the practical impact of the parties' need for separate residences and the attendant increase in living expenses on the ability of both parties to maintain a standard of living reasonably comparable to the standard of living established in the marriage or civil union, to which both parties are entitled, with neither party having a greater entitlement thereto.
Exceptional circumstances which may require an adjustment to the duration of alimony include:
An award of alimony for a limited duration may be modified based either upon changed circumstances, or upon the nonoccurrence of circumstances that the court found would occur at the time of the award. The court may modify the amount of such an award, but shall not modify the length of the term except in unusual circumstances.
In determining the length of the term, the court shall consider the length of time it would reasonably take for the recipient to improve his or her earning capacity to a level where limited duration alimony is no longer appropriate.
This section is not intended to preclude a court from modifying alimony awards based upon the law.
As used in this subsection:
"Family member" means a spouse, child, parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, first cousin, grandparent, grandchild, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, stepparent, stepchild, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister, whether the individual is related by blood, marriage or civil union, or adoption.
The rebuttable presumption may be overcome if, upon consideration of the following factors and for good cause shown, the court determines that alimony should continue:
If the court determines, for good cause shown based on specific written findings of fact and conclusions of law, that the presumption has been overcome, then the court shall apply the alimony factors as set forth in subsection b. of this section to the parties' current circumstances in order to determine whether modification or termination of alimony is appropriate. 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.
In order to determine whether the obligor has met the burden of demonstrating that the obligor's prospective or actual retirement is reasonable and made in good faith, the court shall consider the following factors:
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.
Under circumstances where the changed circumstances arise from the loss of employment, the length of time a party has been involuntarily unemployed or has had an involuntary reduction in income shall not be the only factor considered by the court when an application is filed by a non-self-employed party to reduce alimony because of involuntary loss of employment. The court shall determine the application based upon all of the enumerated factors, however, no application shall be filed until a party has been unemployed, or has not been able to return to or attain employment at prior income levels, or both, for a period of 90 days. The court shall have discretion to make any relief granted retroactive to the date of the loss of employment or reduction of income.
When assessing whether cohabitation is occurring, the court shall consider the following:
In evaluating whether cohabitation is occurring and whether alimony should be suspended or terminated, the court shall also consider the length of the relationship. A court may not find an absence of cohabitation solely on grounds that the couple does not live together on a full-time basis.
As used in this section:
"Full retirement age" shall mean the age at which a person is eligible to receive full retirement for full retirement benefits under section 216 of the federal Social Security Act ().
N.J.S. § 2A:34-23
Amended by L. 2014, c. 42,s. 1, eff. 9/10/2014.
Amended by L. 2009, c. 43,s. 1, eff. 7/1/2009.
Amended by L. 2006, c. 103,s. 78, eff. 2/19/2007.
Amended by L. 2005, c. 171, s. 1, eff. 8/5/2005.
Amended by 1971, c.212, s.8; 1980, c.181; 1983, c.519; 1988, c.153, s.3; c. 302; c. 199, s. 1.
This section is set out twice. See also C.2A:34-231, effective until 9/10/2014.