Wikipedia defines grey divorce as a "term referring to the demographic trend of an increasing divorce rate for older ("grey-haired") couples in long-lasting marriages."  Now while "grey divorces" of a short or mid length marriage provide challenges for a divorce attorney, many believe that divorces of long term marriages are easy.  Just whack up the assets 50-50, agree to permanent alimony and call it a day, right?  That is not an uncommon result, but does it really make sense to do so and not consider real life anticipated events such as retirement and the receipt of Social Security, to name just two. 

Typically, when marriages are longer than 20 years, the concept of permanent alimony seems like a no brainer.  When the parties are in their sixties (or maybe even late fifties) does this make sense?  What if the parties always discussed and agreed that at age 65, the husband was going to retire and planned and lived their life accordingly?  Now, at age 61, either party seeks a divorce (I was going to say the wife – but it really doesn’t matter).  Should this be a permanent alimony case? The default answer is yes but should there be more critical analysis to this? 

In this case, we can assume that all of the assets will be divided 50-50, except perhaps a business asset.  Even then, while business assets are usually disproportionately divided, for longer marriages, the non-titled spouse gets more than they would have in a shorter marriage (the fairness of this may be the subject of another post.)  In addition, it is likely that the amount of alimony afforded will not allow the payor to save substantially before the divorce and a normal retirement age in a few years hence.

If the agreement does not account for retirement, aren’t the parties just buying themselves more litigation in a few years?  Should consideration be given to allowing for retirement and the termination of alimony any time after retirement age without the need to litigate?  If that is the case and someone still works full time after the agreed upon retirement age, should alimony continue? 


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 As if it isn’t hard enough for custodial parents to collect child support arrears, the New Jersey Appellate Division just decided a case in which it was held that the United States government cannot be held responsible for damages when it fails to pay support arrears   from payments due to an obligor. 

 In the recent case of Jacobson v. United States, Steven Tetz was ordered to pay child support to Mindi Jacobson, the mother of his child.   Steven was receiving disability benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the NJ office of child support ( the NJ state agency which is in charge of collecting child support) sent a garnishment order to the SSA. Steven fell behind on his child support payments, and in March of 2008 when he dies, he had arrears of more than $76,000. However, and here’s the kicker, in December of 2007 the SSA had given him a retroactive payment of almost $60,000. Needless to say, Steven did not give any of that to Mindi or his daughter.

 

When Mindi found out, she brought an action against the government, claiming that it owed her for the amount of arrears plus interest, attorney fees and costs for its failure to properly garnish the disability. She brought the matter under the laws, both state and federal that provide that a person or an entity that is responsible for the collection and payment of child support fails to withhold payment, it may be responsible for the amount it should have withheld.


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In an unreported (non-precedential) decision in the case of Brown v. Brown  released on May 25, 2010, the Appellate Division determined that veterans disability benefits and social security benefits are income for purposes of determining alimony.  In this appeal of an Order that granted some alimony reduction but not as much as the former husband sought, the

Many times clients ask me what happens with Social Security Benefits when a couple divorces. This is particularly relevant when one spouse (usually the wife) has spent a significant amount of time out of the workforce to raise children. Although many critics have doubts as to the long term viability of the Social Security System, at