Alimony Reform May Be on the Horizon in New Jersey

Recent attempts at alimony reform in several other states have prompted advocates for alimony reform in New Jersey to renew efforts at introducing legislation that would limit the ability of judges to award lifetime alimony. New Jersey is one of the few states in the nation that allow judges to award lifetime alimony, even past retirement age, for marriages that last as little as 10 years.

Under current New Jersey law, judges use several factors to establish alimony, including the length of the marriage, the ability of each spouse to obtain income and the needs of each party.

Proponents Of Reform

Reform advocates such as the group New Jersey Alimony Reform argue that New Jersey's alimony laws originated out of the "Mad Men" era of the 1940s, 50s and 60s, when women were primarily homemakers and men the primary income earners for the household. Obviously, household situations in modern times have changed; New Jersey's alimony laws have not. Advocates for reform maintain that they are not against alimony per se, but simply do not believe the law should allow alimony orders that can last 30 years or more for a marriage that lasted only 10 years.

Maintaining The Status Quo

On the other hand, some interested parties are not sure alimony reform is a good idea. They argue that case law has refined New Jersey alimony standards over the course of the last 30 years, and that an ex-spouse who took care of the children or home may be vulnerable without lifetime alimony. In addition, it is possible to modify an alimony award if there is a substantial change in circumstances for either party. This means, for example, if an ex-spouse paying alimony loses his or her job, he or she may be able to reduce the amount of the alimony order.

The Goal Is Fairness

Whatever side of the fence on which a person falls regarding the debate on alimony reform, everyone can agree that alimony should be as fair as possible. A spouse who has given up a career in order to care for the marital home needs financial support to adjust to single life. A household income earner should not be saddled with alimony that leads to bankruptcy.

If you are in divorce proceedings or are considering filing for divorce, seek the assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer who can protect your rights and ensure you have a solid financial existence after divorce.