New Jersey Alimony Reform
New Jersey is waiting to hear whether the long sought-after changes to their alimony laws will be adopted. Many view NJ’s alimony laws as unfair and inconsistent. The proposed changes to the law would seek to fortify a more uniform and rational framework for determining what amount and duration of alimony is appropriate as well as circumstances that would warrant a change or termination of the alimony award. One of the key provisions of the proposed new law is the “elimination” of permanent alimony which would be replaced with open durational alimony. Additionally, the court would be required to consider all the relevant factors for an alimony award and provide specific written findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of their decision. The factors would be expanded to include a consideration of support that has already been paid prior to finalization of the divorce as well as the standard of living of both parties such that neither would be entitled to a greater standard of living than the other post-divorce.
The proposed revisions to the alimony law also attempt to put a cap on alimony such that for marriages of twenty (20) years or less, the alimony award cannot be longer than the length of marriage. The court could still get around this general rule in the case of exceptional circumstances. Additionally, alimony awards could be modified and/or terminated upon the retirement of the spouse paying alimony if at full retirement age. If seeking to retire earlier, the paying spouse would have the burden of proving retirement is reasonable and made in good faith. Finally, alimony could be suspended or terminated if the party receiving support cohabits with another person. It is still the burden of the party alleging cohabitation to provide proof of the same to be successful in terminating the alimony award.