NJ Alimony Reform
If you are considering filing for divorce or have a presently pending divorce matter, you should be aware of the recent New Jersey reforms that were signed into law by Governor Chris Christie and passed by the state assembly 77-0 in mid September, 2014. In the new law, the term "permanent alimony" has now been replaced with "open durational alimony." In the past, it was common for one spouse to work and the other to be financially dependent. "Open durational alimony" is meant to reflect that an alimony obligation can be altered when the circumstances of either spouse change. The new law contains more guidance and gives judges less discretion in certain matters than the former law. The divorce lawyers at Goldstein Law Group can help you navigate these reforms if you are seeking to dissolve a marriage in Monmouth County or surrounding areas.Changes to New Jersey's Alimony Law
If a spouse asks for alimony, the judge is required to issue a written ruling explaining the analysis of relevant factors in ruling whether there should be an alimony award. Additional factors which a judge will now consider include the ages of the parties when they married, the duration of the marriage when the marriage concluded (typically, the date when one spouse files his or her complaint for divorce), the ability of both parties to maintain their standard of living after divorce, the financial dependency of one party on the other, and whether either party has health problems.
The new legislation also requires judges to consider the payer's financial and personal circumstances more than they’ve had to do in the past. Judges now have more guidance when adjusting alimony because the alimony payer has lost his or her job or retired. Judges can modify alimony after a payer of alimony has been unemployed for 90 days or more. The new law contemplates that a retired ex-spouse can stop making alimony payments after turning 67 years old.
These days, many marriages are short-lived. Under the new law, when a marriage is less than 20 years, the alimony payments will not last as long as the length of the marriage except under "exceptional circumstances." Some critics of this reform have noted that women who take time out of the workforce may permanently lose their earning potential. The alimony reform bill would get rid of “permanent alimony” awards and create new guidelines for the term of limited duration alimony based primarily on the length of the marriage.
While judicial discretion is not fully eliminated, it is reduced under the reforms. In the past, alimony ended when the spouse who was receiving the payments remarried. The new law encourages judges to pause an alimony order if an ex-spouse moves in with a new partner, even if his or her financial needs have not changed. This can be problematic if the new partner cannot contribute for a good reason, such as a medical condition or disability.Discuss Your Family Law Concerns with a Middlesex County Lawyer
The experienced spousal support attorneys at Goldstein Law Group have advised and represented residents of Middlesex County and beyond in family law matters. We have four attorneys at our firm that serve as Early Settlement panelists. Among the diverse range of clients we have represented includes two current/former family law judges in their own family law matters. If you currently or in the future anticipate that you will be paying or receiving alimony payments, we can help you understand how the new laws will apply to your case. We serve clients in Freehold, East Brunswick, Marlboro and Manalapan, among other communities. Contact us at 732-967-6777 or via our online form.