Deegen

As we know, limited duration alimony ("LDA") is alimony for a definite period of time.  Unlike rehabilitative alimony where there is a goal in mind to be reached by the end of the rehabilitation period and which can possibly be extended of the goal has not been reached, per the statute, the term of LDA is not supposed to be able to be modified except for "unusual circumstances." Of course, even limited duration alimony is subject to modification based upon "changed circumstances." Of note, however, is that retirement has been recognized as a possible change of circumstances sufficient to seek a modification. 

The issue of whether early retirement could be used by an alimony payor in order to terminate his LDA obligation was recently addressed in the case of Hendrickson v. Hendrickson, an unreported (non-precedential) opinion released on November 5, 2012.  In that case, the parties agreed to an 8 year term of LDA at the time of the divorce in 2006, in the amount of $265 per week, that actually was reduced to $145 per week to take into account that the wife’s child support obligation because the husband had custody of the children.  

The husband had been working at Fort Monmouth for more than 30 years when it closed in 2011.  The husband asserted that though he had been offered a position in Aberdeen, Maryland, the net effect of the transfer would have resulted in a reduction of income and increased expenses.  Moreover, he was able to retire for health reasons and collect his retirement benefits.  As a result of a claimed inability to pay, the husband filed a motion to terminate his LDA obligation.  

The trial court denied the request finding that the early retirement was not a change of circumstances.  An unsuccessful motion for reconsideration was denied, as well.  The Appellate Division affirmed the decision, but for different reasons.Continue Reading Can a payor retire to get out of his limited duration alimony obligation?