NJ Alimony Law Opinion by Alan Frisher

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The new NJ alimony law is a beginning that has long been overdue. Now that the family law system has been exposed for what it truly is, I hope this journey toward additional beneficial change continues to occur for NJ and other States as well.

new jersey alimony law divorce

An old Chinese proverb states that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I am thrilled that the NJ legislature has taken this first step in updating antiquated divorce law in that state. Tom Leustek, the President of NJ Alimony Reform, and all of the members who helped achieve this groundbreaking reform legislation, are to be congratulated.

The new law will allow retirement to be considered a substantial enough change to allow for a downward modification or elimination of alimony payments. It will also provide some additional guidelines to judges by establishing durational limits on the length of alimony payments for marriages under 20 years. And lastly, it will help clarify supportive relationships for the possibility of modifications to current alimony payments. These are all very important principals that may enable newly divorcing spouses the ability to move on with their separate lives with limited, if any, financial ties.

No legislation is perfect, and there are indeed challenges with this legislation. Two of the major challenges that I see, are as follows. As stated, this legislation will address new divorces, not necessarily pre-existing ones. This is patently unfair to current alimony payers who are suffering under abusive language of the law and who have fought hard for these changes. When slavery was abolished, it wasn’t just for those who were first going to become slaves…it was for everyone. Hopefully, future amendments to the law will address current alimony payers and allow them to modify their orders under the new law.

The new law also allows for continued effort to try to maintain the standard of living that was had during the marriage. It is impractical to believe that one income can pay for two households. This, to me, is fundamentally wrong and absolutely needs to be addressed in future amendments to the law. The foundation of any good divorce legislation has to begin with realizing that there will be a presumption that a lower standard of living will occur for both spouses after a divorce. With current law in place, since the standard of living can’t be maintained for both spouses, judges are trying to maintain the current standard of living for one spouse at the expense of the other. This type of logic is what causes alimony orders to be high and oftentimes not affordable.

Considering the uphill battle it took just to get this legislation on the desk of Governor Christie for his signature, the citizens of NJ should be thankful for the efforts of NJ alimony reform. We, here in Florida, continue to fight our own battle toward reform and are hopeful to achieve it in our upcoming 2015 legislative session.

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