“Can I ever retire?” is a question often posed by the client who is paying permanent alimony.  It is also a question that I often dread answering when the client is a business owner as what I am really being asked is not whether s/he can retire, but whether s/he can stop paying alimony. 

The good news is that at some point of time, depending on the job and the requirements of the job, it is reasonable for the payor to cut back on work and eventually retire.  Every job is different.  A union worker or even a judge with a mandatory retirement age is not treated the same as a business owner who is often able to cut back but continue operating a business well into their 70s, 80s or even 90s.   As long as the income flow keeps pouring in, permanent alimony may continue.  The term of art “permanent” alimony may truly end up “lifetime” alimony.

So the better question to ask is often not: “Can I ever retire?”, but “When the time comes that I decide to retire, can I be relieved of my obligation to pay alimony?”  Alimony, especially in New Jersey, is a complex subject, so be certain to give yourself plenty of time to discuss with your attorney the nuances of this often maddening issue.


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