Sweeping alimony reform law comes to New Jersey

Sweeping new alimony reform has been signed into law in New Jersey, thus ending permanent alimony.

A look at what is inside the new alimony legislation

Alimony reform has been signed into law in New Jersey, making the state one of many in recent years to tackle the highly contentious topic, according to The Record. The final legislation, which is considered a compromise compared to earlier versions of the bill, will bring significant changes for people going through a divorce. Proponents of the reform say it was necessary in order to keep New Jersey family law up to date with 21st-century views on the family.

End of permanent alimony

Perhaps the most significant change brought by the new legislation is the end of permanent, or “lifetime,” alimony, according to NJ Advance Media. In the past, an ex-spouse could be ordered to pay alimony indefinitely. Under the new law, alimony ends when the person paying the alimony reaches retirement age.

Alimony will also be limited depending on the length of the marriage. Any marriage that lasts for less than 20 years will result in alimony for a period no longer than the length of the marriage. A judge, however, can still rule for longer periods of alimony if there are “exceptional circumstances” in the case.

Not retroactive

It is important to understand that the new laws are not retroactive, so alimony orders already in place will not be affected by the legislation. The one exception, however, concerns retirement. People entering retirement in the future, regardless of a previous divorce contract, may be able to end their alimony payments under the new reforms.

There are other important changes included in the legislation. For example, under the new law, people paying alimony can apply for a reduction if they have been out of work for more than three months. Under the old law, people paying alimony would have to be unemployed for a year before petitioning for lower payments. Also, the reforms provide for much stricter guidelines for ending alimony when the recipient moves into a home with a new romantic partner.

Divorce concerns

The above is just a sample of some of the important changes brought forth by the new alimony laws. Indeed, learning how courts and judges decide to interpret the new laws will take years, and there are indications that further reforms could be on the horizon.

Because family law is going through such significant changes right now, anybody considering a divorce should talk with a qualified attorney instead of trying to deal with the legal system alone. Family law requires a great deal of legal expertise and people are often well advised to reach out to an attorney who will approach their divorce case in a way that is compassionate, fair and economical.

Keywords: New Jersey, alimony


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