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reaches age 55, that person is entitled to full pension
benefits). Consequently, when a supported spouse seeks
alimony from a teacher, it cannot be ignored that there
was very likely no intention that the payor would work
beyond achieving age 55. Similarly, when a payee is
seeking alimony from a heavy construction worker, or
a Wall Street analyst, or a police officer, there was never
an expectation during the marriage that the payor would
work at that position until reaching the full retirement
age. In these cases, it would be prudent for the attorneys
to address these ‘economic realities’ within an agreement,
and hopefully agree upon a reasonable retirement age.
For the payee, consideration is given for the level of
financial independence and the financial impact of the
retirement upon the obligee. However, it is clear it is
expected that: 1) the payee will recognize that a retirement will occur; and 2) the payee will make financial
adjustments to properly prepare for that day. Moreover,
if the payor is ‘cutting back’ or otherwise continuing to
be employed in some capacity, alimony may continue at a
reduced amount.

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One last important provision in section j.(2): With
the filing of the application, both the moving party and
the responding party must file prior and updated case
information statements or other relevant financial documents. Previously, when such an application for modification was being filed, only after the moving party had
met the burden of proof did the responding party have to
disclose financial information and documentation.
Last, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23j(3) provides some level of
relief to those payors who have judgments or agreements
predating the new alimony statute. In essence, j.(3)
confirms that achieving full retirement age is deemed a
good faith retirement age; in other words, reaching full
retirement age (and actually retiring) equates to meeting
the first prong of Lepis v. Lepis.38 As such, upon reaching
the appropriate age, and with the filing of an application
by the payor, both parties must file current and prior case
information statements or other relevant financial documents. Based upon the submissions, the court shall apply
the factors set forth in section j.(3) in order to determine
whether alimony should be modified or terminated.39
The next area of alimony law that was addressed
by the new statute was changes in the financial circumstances of the parties warranting review and, perhaps,

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modification, commonly referred to as a Lepis40 application. On this topic, there were a number of concerns:
The law has never really provided any guidance for
‘how long’ a payor had to be unemployed, or showed a
downturn in income, before an application could be filed
with the court. Cases such as Larbig41 and Donnelly42
are often cited when rejecting an application as being
filed ‘too soon’; but there is no case that states when it is
not ‘too soon.’
The law has lumped together self-employed payors and
those who are employees of others when reviewing applications for modification. There is clearly a difference between
a self-employed person, who can exert a level of control
over income/classification of income, and an employee,
who is subject to the whim of an employer. Several legislators recited stories of constituents who had lost jobs due
to circumstances beyond their control—the closing of the
Ford plant in Middlesex County, for example.
There was an impression that payors were ‘regularly’
denied financial relief, and ‘frequently’ being sent to jail for
failing to pay alimony, notwithstanding an alleged inability to pay. There were several ‘horror stories’ in television
news stories and in the written press, re-counting the tales
of woe of various payors paying alimony to a perpetrator
of domestic violence; orders for alimony that allegedly
exceeded the payors’ income; orders for alimony to payees
who earned more than the payors; failure to provide relief
to disabled payors (including veterans) and so on. Many of
these payors also testified before the Legislature and met
with individual legislators, leaving a lasting impression.
While the ‘backstories’ of some of these alleged horror
stories would later reveal legitimate explanations for the
failure to provide relief or for the incarceration, these
stories had a tremendous impact on the legislators.
Another momentous event leading to the need for
change was the economic crisis that began in 2008. A
number of industries—and as a consequence, careers—
were adversely affected by this historical downturn in
the economy. Levels of unemployment likewise reached
extraordinary lows. Suddenly, more and more payors
needed relief from their obligations, and there was just as
suddenly a desire to assist in granting their relief.
Consequently, sections k., l. and m. were created to
address the various issues concerning financial changes
in circumstances.
First, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23k. addresses those who do
not work for themselves—that is, employees of others.
In determining whether such a payor is entitled to