Articles Posted in Alimony

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If you have listened to local radio in recent years, (certainly those stations geared to a more mature audience), you were hard pressed to miss commercials from a “large” insurance broker toutinginsurance-300x184 his ability to obtain “affordable” life insurance coverage for persons, notwithstanding whether you had various chronic health conditions, took medications, or were otherwise not in the best of shape. Recently, that same insurance broker has been running a new series of commercials clearly geared to divorced or divorcing spouses, who may be in the position of having to secure life insurance coverage for the benefit of their ex, maybe even more than one. In addition to making me chuckle, these commercials made me think about the issue of life insurance and divorce. In this blog post I will briefly discuss this issue as well as some real life considerations regarding same.

It was generally recognized that support obligations, be they alimony or child support, would end upon the happening of certain sets of circumstances, including the death of the payor. Our Federal tax laws mandated that payments had to end upon death if they were to qualify as alimony. Even our state statutes, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-25, provided that alimony shall terminate upon the death of the payor spouse. However, over the last 50 years or so, the courts of this state, grappling with the financial impact a payor’s death would have upon a former spouse or children who were still dependent upon that support, have gradually expanded the extent some sort of “security”, including the maintaining of life insurance, would be authorized, if not required, to address same.

The New Jersey Supreme Court in Grotsky v. Grotsky, 58 N.J. 354 (1971), chose to liberally interpret and apply the “reasonable security for the due observance” of alimony and child support orders language of N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, to allow courts to require a payor parent to maintain life insurance on his life to secure the “due fulfillment of the [child] support ordered during their minority”. These sentiments were carried forward in regards to alimony in a case of Meerwarth v. Meerwarth, 128 N.J. Super. 285 (Ch. Div. 1974), aff’d 137 N.J. Super. 66 (App. Div. 1975), aff’d 71 N.J. 541 (1976). In that case, the former wife sought permission to obtain at her expense a life insurance policy on her ex-husband’s life and require his cooperation regarding same. The trial court denied this request, concluding that his right to privacy in not submitting himself to a physical examination outweighed any equitable basis or need for this insurance given the ex-wife’s favorable financial position. While both the Appellate Division and the Supreme Court affirmed this decision, the Supreme Court noted that under appropriate circumstances and for good cause, a court could order a divorced husband to cooperate in obtaining insurance on his life for the financial protection of his former wife and his children, citing to the “reasonable security” provision of N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 for this authority. Finally, in the case of Davis v. Davis, 184 N.J. Super. 430 (App. Div. 1982), The Appellate Division affirmed an order of the trial court which required the payor to obtain life insurance on his life [or create a trust fund] for the benefit of his former spouse to “provide some measure of security… for the payment of alimony in the event of [payor’s] death”, noting that equity cried out for some relief given the formal wife’s precarious financial position, lack of equitable distribution, ill health, inability to work, etc.

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Most people would be shocked to find out that an individual who obtains a final restraining order against their spouse could be ordered to pay alimony to support his/her abuser. The Prevention offile000388004075-3-200x300 Domestic Violence Act (“Act”) specifically states that victims of domestic violence are entitled to financial support from their abusers. However, the Act is silent on whether a victim of domestic violence who is also the income producing spouse has to support the abuser. Continue reading

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file00032137357-300x225The 2017 Tax Reform Act has been signed into law by President Trump. This law significantly changes the tax liability of individuals. For individuals, it preserves the marriage penalty forcing dual income households to file jointly to increase their tax bracket or face the faster escalated tax rates imposed on those married filing separately. The intermediate tax haven for married persons filing separately or head of household is preserved, allowing for some planning in divorce proceedings with regard to filing status. Continue reading

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I would like to begin this blog post by thanking all those who are currently serving in the United States military and to all Veterans  that have served. Currently, there are approximately 22 million veterans of the U.S. armed forces and 1.5 million currently serving. On September 15, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling potentially affecting their military families. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in May, 2017, in the case of Howell v. Howell (No.15-1037) that a state court may not order a veteran to indemnify a divorced spouse for the loss in the divorced spouse’s portion of the veteran’s retirement pay caused by the veteran’s waiver of retirement pay to receive service-related disability benefits. Continue reading

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I was at a social event recently. A woman attending that event, after learning that I was a divorce attorney, came up to me. She told me that her ex-husband had just filed court papers seeking to modify or terminate her alimony payments. With indignation in her voice she explained that “He can’t do that because I have permanent alimony!” It was obvious that this person had taken the word “permanent” literally, and believed that her alimony rights were forever immutable. She seemed genuinely shocked when I explained, without getting into the details of her case, that even “permanent” alimony may be modified or terminated upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. Continue reading

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There are some points where federal law intersects with or affects the economic consequences of pending or finalized divorces. Recently one of those point of intersection was the topic Job-Application-SSN-300x225of conversation of a prospective client. Her concern I am sure are shared by many. The question dealt with Social Security and how one computes the 10 year requirement for derivative benefits. Continue reading

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I understand why you might not want to read this but . . . tax season is upon us.   While I am an attorney specializing in family law, I frequently come into contact with other areas of law, such as irs-300x225criminal law, school law, health law, real estate law, elder law, bankruptcy law, and so on.  While I am not a tax attorney, tax considerations do come into play in family law, especially divorces, sometimes by circumstance and sometimes by necessity.   Please note that I am not an accountant, and your divorce attorney is probably also not an accountant.  I do not intend this blog to be legal or accounting advice.  If you have any questions about your tax obligations you should definitely consult an accountant. Continue reading

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In Mills v. Mills, 447 N.J. Super. 79 (Ch. Div. 2016), the family court was confronted with the issue of whether the defendant (payor spouse) should receive a reduction in his alimony obligation3e728f0b3d0e026b62a8cb4b38918e95 upon the loss of long-term employment and his subsequent hire at a new job – at a significantly lower salary. Continue reading

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SlashI was recently perusing a periodical and came across a story about a celebrity musician who was claiming he was never married to his wife of 15 years because of a known snafu in her earlier divorce paperwork. The headline stated “Slash claims he was never married to wife of 15 years”. (http://www.metro.us/entertainment/slash-claims-he-was-never-married-to-wife-of-15-years/zsJpjE—wsgif5AIi7dW6/). For those of you who don’t know, Slash, who’s legal name Saul Hudson (which better calls to mind the fictional character Saul Goodman of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul”),  is the prolific lead guitarist of the recently reformed rock group Guns N’ Roses.  Continue reading

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In the preface to Benjamin Franklin’s famous 1758 almanac he proclaimed: “A penny saved is a penny got.” In the parlance of our times, the quote has been more commonly used to stand for “a penny saved is a penny earned.” Whether or not Benjamin Franklin, a learned economist, meant that a penny saved, as opposed to reinvested, was in fact a penny earned is up for debate. On September 12, 2016, in the case of Lombardi-v-Lombardi, the New Jersey Appellate Division addressed the issue of how alimony should be calculated in a divorce case when the parties during the marriage historically saved money. Continue reading