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How Much Would Alimony Reform In NJ Change Family Law?

How Much Would Alimony Reform In NJ Change Family Law?

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.

1 Comment

  1. John Waldorf
    September 24, 2013

    HDarling,
    Your notion that there still remains a large disparity in earnings potential between spouses is old paradigm. In fact, more women now graduate from college than men. Women out earn men in the banking, insurance and health care fields. There may be a disparity between my best friend’s earnings and mine but there is no law that says he should pay me money simply because he makes more than I do. What one spouse makes or doesn’t make should not affect divorce in a major way. A year or two of durational alimony would be equitable, but that is. Court orders which require permanent alimony simply set up a dependent class of people. If the spouse who earns less wants a better lifestyle they should go out and educate themselves and get a better paying job. As far as consulting with an Attorney, I believe there should be new code that mandates complete disclosure and that there be caps put on Attorney fees in matrimonial matters. A Divorcing couple finances should not be left in ruins due to legal costs. The current system awards Attorneys with huge legal fees by inserting delays in the process with needless unproductive motions and negotiating.

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