Over the course of the last two years, lawmakers and other interested parties have been engaged in a rigorous debate concerning reform of one of the pillars of family law here in New Jersey.
Specifically, this debate has centered around the controversial topic of reforming the state’s alimony laws, something that proponents have argued is necessary to prevent those unjust scenarios where divorced men and women are essentially forced to pay spousal support in perpetuity to their ex-spouses.
Over the last few weeks, both state lawmakers and the aforementioned interested parties have reached a compromise. In fact, a bill proposing some significant changes to the Garden State’s alimony laws has cleared both the Assembly and the Senate, and made its way to the desk of Governor Chris Christie.
Some of the amendments called for by the bill, which would generally apply to future divorces, include the following:
- Eliminating the term “permanent alimony” and substituting “open durational alimony.”
- Enabling judges to reduce alimony payments if the payor spouse has been unemployed for at least 90 days.
- Enabling judges to terminate alimony payments altogether if the payee spouse resides with a partner (remarriage is not required).
- Mandating that absent “exceptional circumstances” alimony payments resulting from marriages lasting less than 20 years cannot exceed the length of the marriage.
While some proponents of alimony reform were pleased with the results, believing that the passage of the bill was a good first step, others believed the entire effort should have been abandoned until such time as state lawmakers were willing to introduce wholesale reform.
Still others argued that the bill erroneously gave family court judges even more power rather than establishing precise formulas for them to follow in setting the amount and duration of alimony payments.
It remains to be seen whether Governor Christie will sign the measure into law.
What are your thoughts on the state legislature’s attempts at alimony reform? Do you think they go too far or do you think they don’t go far enough?
Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have questions or would like to learn more about your options regarding divorce, alimony or other important family law issues.
Source: The Star-Ledger, “Bill to change NJ’s alimony law heads to Christie,” Matt Friedman, June 30, 2014