How Much Would Alimony Reform In NJ Change Family Law?
- September 22, 2013
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Currently, there are two proposed bills before the New Jersey State Legislature regarding alimony reform that may transform divorce procedures in the state for years to come. The two proposed laws are S2750 and A3909 and, if passed, they will create guidelines for judges to follow when ordering alimony payments based on the duration of the marriage and would also eliminate permanent alimony awards altogether. The issue of the longevity of alimony has been debated in this state for decades. Many practitioners, law makers, and residents hold steadfast beliefs as to whether or not the current state of alimony should be reformed in New Jersey. The sociological perspective that supports the notion that alimony should be reformed in this state is based upon the notion that the need for permanent alimony no longer exists because most households consist of two working spouses who, in the event of the dissolution of the marriage, are capable of supporting themselves independently. Traditionally, permanent alimony existed to ensure that spouses (historically women), who remained home during the marriage to support the family in ways that did not earn money, were not left in financial ruin. Typically, these spouses either never entered the workforce or remained isolated from the workforce for so long that they found it extremely difficult to find suitable occupations because they lacked the skills that employers deemed necessary for employment. On the other hand, the alternative perspective is that there still remains large disparities in the earning potential between spouses. In the event of a divorce, one spouse usually still has a harder time financially supporting him or herself. In addition, one spouse usually serves as the parent of primary residence for their children, if the marriage spawned children, which creates additional financial hardships for that spouse. Therefore, the debate over alimony reform continues to rage on. The alimony reform bill which went before the Senate Judiciary Committee in May of 2013 places limits on the longevity of alimony based upon the duration of the marriage. The bill also provides courts with the option to make alimony awards “in the interests of justice” which means that it would still be possible for a court considering the totality of the circumstances surrounding a marriage to make an alimony award which would persist for and indefinite length of time, as justice requires. Therefore, the proposed law, although seemingly changes the landscape of alimony in New Jersey, would still leave the door open for courts to order long-term alimony awards if the particular situation required them to do so. If you are considering a divorce or modification of alimony you should consult an experienced family law attorney to learn what you may expect and obtain what you deserve. For more information regarding alimony, child support, civil union dissolution, divorce, equitable distribution, custody or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.