Everyone wants to know the answer to the million dollar question: can I retire before the age of 67 years old and still get my alimony and / or child support terminated? Of course you can retire any age you would like, but the courts in New Jersey do not allow you to retire in order to evade your alimony or child support obligation.
According to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(j), alimony may be modified or terminated upon the prospective or actual retirement of the obligor.
The statute continues to state the following: there shall be a rebuttable presumption that alimony shall terminate upon the obligor spouse or partner attaining full retirement age, except that any arrearages that have accrued prior to the termination date shall not be vacated or annulled. The court may set a different alimony termination date for good cause shown based on specific written findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Also, notably, the rebuttable presumption may be overcome by the obligee if, upon consideration of the following factors and for good cause shown, the court determines that alimony should continue:
- The ages of the parties at the time of the application for retirement;
- The ages of the parties at the time of the marriage or civil union and their ages at the time of entry of the alimony award;
- The degree and duration of the economic dependency of the recipient upon the payor during the marriage or civil union;
- Whether the recipient has foregone or relinquished or otherwise sacrificed claims, rights or property in exchange for a more substantial or longer alimony award;
- The duration or amount of alimony already paid;
- The health of the parties at the time of the retirement application;
- Assets of the parties at the time of the retirement application;
- Whether the recipient has reached full retirement age as defined in this section;
- Sources of income, both earned and unearned, of the parties;
- The ability of the recipient to have saved adequately for retirement; and
- Any other factors that the court may deem relevant.
In Lissner v. Marburger, Mr. Lissner wanted to retire at the age of 61 years old and therefore terminate his child support obligation. The Court determined that it had to weigh whether the benefits to the voluntarily retiring parent (in this case, Mr. Lissner) substantially outweighed the disadvantages to the recipient of the support (in this case, his children). In making that determination, the Court must consider the (1) the benefits to the retiring parent, based on his or her age, health, timing, finances, assets, reasons for retiring, and whether the parent can control the disbursement of retirement payments to enable him or her to maintain support for the child despite retirement; (2) the impact on the child of reduced support, based on his or her needs, age, health, assets, and standard of living to which he or she has grown accustomed, and any proffered advantages to the child from the parent's retirement; (3) the fairness of the decision, based on the obligor's motivation, good faith, and voluntariness of the retirement; and (4) any other factors. The Court further noted that it is the obligor's (Mr. Lissner’s) burden to justify the reduction in support. The Court determined that Mr. Lissner failed to meet his burden. The Court further opined that those that “parents later in life” may reasonably expect to bear the burden of supporting children later in life as well.The age of 67 years has become the traditional and presumptive age of retirement for American workers. However, it still may be difficult to retire at 67 years old and be awarded a termination of your child support and / or alimony obligations. Call Ziegler, Resnick & Epstein to see if you qualify for an “early retirement” or if you can retire at the age of 67 years and also get your alimony or child support terminated