Manchester, NH Attorneys
Call Today for Your Consultation 603.734.5461

Breaking Down the New Alimony Law in New Hampshire

On June 25, 2018, Governor Sununu approved a new alimony law that has been pending for some time. This law will apply to all cases filed on or after January 1, 2019. For any cases filed before this date, parties may agree to adopt all or part of the new law. For divorce cases filed on or after June 25, 2018 through December 31, 2018, where parties have not elected to follow the new law, they shall be controlled by the law currently in effect unless the court determines that applying the new law is equitable under the circumstances of the individual case.

Highlights of the new law contain the following terminology:

“Length of marriage” meaning the number of months from the date of marriage to the date of service of the petition for divorce, legal separation or annulment. 458:19VII

“Reimbursement alimony” meaning one or more payments to a spouse or former spouse to compensate him or her for economic or non-economic contribution to the financial resources of the payor. 458:19XI. This provision effectively reimburses one spouse for the contributions they made during the course of the marriage for the benefit of the other spouse.

“Term alimony” meaning periodic payments made to a spouse or former spouse after the effective date of the final decree. 458:19XV

Term alimony shall be calculated by the judge in accordance with a formula, although the judge is given the discretion to adjust the formula if justice requires. The amount shall be the lesser of the payee (recipient of alimony) spouse’s reasonable need for alimony or the formula. The formula is derived by using 30% of the difference in the spouses’ gross income and in the payor’s case, reduced by subtracting the amounts that are ordered and actually paid for child support (including child support for joint children) or alimony and costs for other specified expenses such as health insurance for the spouse. In the payee’s case, child support, alimony and costs such as health care premiums paid by the payor are added to their gross income.

The length of the alimony term shall be half of the length of marriage or if the parties agree otherwise or the court finds that justice requires a different term, either longer or shorter. 458:19-a,III

Reimbursement alimony is determined upon equitable factors. The purpose of reimbursement alimony is to compensate the payee for economic or non-economic contribution to the financial resources of the payor, where the property is subject to division under RSA 458:16-a, is either inappropriate or inadequate to provide such compensation. Examples may include furtherance or completion of education and job training. 458:19-aa,V. Reimbursement alimony is a separate award from “term alimony.” Therefore, the higher wage earning spouse could be ordered by the trial court to pay child support, term alimony and reimbursement alimony.

Second jobs or overtime income is irrelevant for the purposes of an award of alimony and a modification of alimony, so long as the spouse has a full time job. 458:19,III. Effectively, the court will not “punish” an individual who gets a second job to meet his or her financial obligations, by including the income from the second job in an award of alimony.

Retirement terminates alimony unless justice otherwise requires it to continue. 458:19-aa,IV,V.

Cohabitation may terminate or modify alimony if the court finds that cohabitation exists between two unrelated adults in a relationship resembling marriage considering the following factors: living together on a continual basis in a primary residence, sharing expenses, the economic interdependence of dependence of one another, join ownership of real or personal property, an intimate relationship, whether the couple holds themselves out to be a couple and any other material factors. 458:19-aa,VIII.

Reinstatement of alimony may occur if the original alimony award terminated due to the cohabitation or remarriage of one spouse following the divorce, and the cohabitation ended or second marriage ended in divorce. The payee spouse may move for reinstatement of the original order, so long as there are still payments of alimony left under the original alimony term. 458:19,IX.

Categories: