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Friday, February 8, 2013

NJ Alimony Reform and What You Need to Know

Alimony is always a hotly contested issue in any divorce case in New Jersey.  Studies also show that alimony is one of the most "Googled" topics when people research divorce and family law.  In light of these facts, it is my pleasure to provide you with this update as to the status of the New Jersey Alimony Reform.  

First, let me please provide some background regarding this NJ alimony movement.
In the last few years, many individuals and groups have become quite public about the need for New Jersey alimony reform.  This movement gained momentum as many people feel that New Jersey's present alimony statute and case law is outdated and needs to be modernized.

As a result lobbying efforts, Assemblyman Sean Kean (R-Monmouth) has proposed bill S1388/A685 to address numerous aspects of NJ alimony laws.  This legislation, the first step towards potential alimony reform, is currently making its way through the process in Trenton.  In June 2012, a commission was created to review laws currently on the books and is due to report back next month. While many claim the debate is heating up, there is still much work to do.  Certainly, it is critical you work with an attorney committed to monitoring any changes in NJ alimony laws and keeps a close eye on this situation as these initiatives progress. 

Many client are curious as to how alimony is calculated.  Unfortunately, under the present NJ Alimony Laws, there is never a "simple" answer to this extremely fair and important question.  Under N.J.S.A 2A:34-23,  the current guidelines a long list of "guidelines" are listed to assists Judges and Divorce Attorneys to "calculate" alimony awards in New Jersey.  As you can see, these guidelines are vague and therefore lead to difficulties during negotiation of alimony as to the amount and term.  In addition, if a case goes to trial, the attorneys and Judges face an extremely difficult task in determining these aspects of alimony in NJ Divorces.   

At the heart of the reform issue is the ambiguity as well as the amount and length of time alimony is to be paid to a receiving party.  The alimony laws were written back in the 1950’s and have not been updated.  Since that time there have been considerable cultural changes including greater access to education and employment opportunities for both spouses.  Proponents of reform are motivated to put a more standard set of formulas in place and move to a system where permanent alimony is removed as an option.  Additionally, these groups feel that the stronger and more concrete language should be placed around the guidelines to remove the discretion judges currently have in these cases.  Finally, as alimony is always a "hot button" and very emotional issue in any NJ divorce case, clarity in the law will be helpful to the clients, their divorce lawyers as well as the Judges of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part.

On my website, you may please find information on the general aspects of alimony including the types of alimony that may be applicable and awarded to your case.  Additionally, I invite you to make an appointment with our office to review your personal circumstances and how our expert legal team can be of great benefit to your case.  At the Law Offices of Edward R. Weinstein we are committed to providing top-notch legal representation to secure the best future for you and your children.  Please feel free to call or email our office so we may discuss your situation.