Update 2014: Will There Be Changes to the New Jersey Alimony Law?

You might be familiar with the recent movement in New Jersey to reform the current New Jersey alimony law.  It appears that momentum for alimony reform has strengthened since the changes to Massachusetts alimony laws went into effect in March 2012.

If you or someone you know is going through a divorce and alimony is an issue or there is already a divorce and alimony is being paid, then you could be affected by the proposed changes to New Jersey alimony law.

Under current New Jersey alimony law, an award of permanent alimony could be made after the judge considers a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the financial needs and resources of each spouse, and the marital lifestyle, to name a few.

Moreover, even where permanent alimony has been ordered, the paying spouse could later ask the court to reduce or terminate alimony where there has been a significant change in the financial circumstances of the parties, such as the ability to pay alimony or a change in the needs of the spouse receiving alimony.

Significant changes have been proposed, however, with the introduction into the New Jersey Senate on March 24, 2014 of S-1808, which is supported by the New Jersey State Bar Association.  This bill, which is currently pending in the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee, would eliminate the term “permanent alimony” in favor of “indefinite duration.”

Specifically, New Jersey Senate bill S-1808 would codify that New Jersey alimony could be modified by such grounds as retirement and involuntary loss of employment.   Further, the spouse paying alimony would be entitled to review of support 90 days after loss of employment.

The court would have discretion to make any relief granted retroactive to the date of the loss of employment or reduction of income.

Moreover, a paying spouse would be permitted to suspend or terminate alimony if the receiving spouse were to cohabit with another person without having remarried.

In the meantime, the New Jersey State Bar Association also supports the joint resolution introduced by the New Jersey Senate on January 14, 2014, which establishes a commission to study New Jersey alimony law.

Such a commission would undertake a comprehensive review to determine whether any changes are needed to New Jersey alimony laws and what those changes should be.  This joint New Jersey Senate Resolution remains pending in the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee.

Please forward this on to someone who would find it useful.  In the meantime, I encourage you to call our office with any questions.

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