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I just received an amendment complaint from my ex aimed at ending alimony. He says he has reached the deadline for his commitment due to the new child support laws. I read that if you have a 20 year marriage he still has to pay. We were married almost 20 years. The day before our anniversary, he gave me the divorce papers and announced that he was going to marry his secretary.
I depend on this subsistence and have structured my life to meet my expenses, but I have no savings. I only have a modest house and will be able to draw on my teachers’ pension in a few years, but I haven’t worked full-time since our children were born – I shared the job with another teacher. Our daughter had special needs and I had to be available. When she died two years ago, I had no real reason to change the part of my job that I had had for over a decade.
Can he just end the alimony?
These are very interesting facts that probably only affect a handful of people. Before the maintenance reform law, we took into account the duration of the marriage when determining the division of assets. The marital estate is divided from the date of divorce, so it was assumed that the duration of your marriage was based on the date of marriage to the date of divorce. This still applies to asset allocation. However, under the Alimony Reform Act, for purposes of alimony, the length of marriage is calculated from the date of marriage to the date of service of the subpoena related to the divorce.
People whose alimony payments were made before the reform faced a number of unexpected situations that the legislature did not anticipate. In fairness, calculating the length of marriage should be based on the law at the time of your divorce, which would put you past the 20 year mark and he can’t change his alimony until he actually retires At that point he would have to explain why he should be allowed to stop his alimony. If you google and read “Pierce vs. Pierce” you can get some information on what he would need to show to end the alimony.
He wants to apply this new definition to your 20-year marriage without a tag to save a few bucks. While I think you have strong arguments for using the old definition, nothing is foolproof and judges have discretion. You could spend years and a lot of money negotiating this point. Since you are nearing retirement, I recommend that you negotiate alimony. If you litigate now and win, he won’t be back for the second round for a couple of years. Find out the number everyone can live with now and move on.
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