Major Changes in New Jersey Alimony Law – The End of the Lifetime Alimony Payment System

New Jerseyans planning to divorce will soon need to re-think their finances in a major way. Governor Chris Christie signed a bill in September which represents New Jersey’s first step into alimony reform.

Alimony laws originated from a time when the husband would be the sole provider and the wife usually would not work. Thus, these laws would provide the recipient with alimony payments for life.

Proponents of alimony reform complain that lifetime alimony payments are outdated and oppressive. Reformers believe that lifetime alimony forces the payer to work well past the normal retirement age, and live in fear of bankruptcy and incarceration. In addition, proponents of alimony reform believe that the lifetime alimony system discourages independence and self-sufficiency of the recipient.

The alimony reform bill signed by Governor Christie ends the lifetime alimony system. Some of the features of this new law include:

  • A “rebuttable presumption” that alimony payments will end once the payer reaches the “full retirement age” of 67, unless the recipient can convince a judge that alimony payments should continue.
  • Alimony payments cannot go on longer than the length of the marriage if the marriage was less than 20 years, unless a judge finds there are “exceptional circumstances.”
  • A judge has the power to end alimony payments if the recipient cohabits (lives with) another person in an “intimate personal relationship,” even if they are not married.
  • A judge can reduce alimony payments if the payer has been unemployed for 90 days.

Some reformers praised the new law as a major victory in ending the lifetime alimony system. However, other reformers would have preferred to hold out for even more comprehensive changes. Finally, some critics expressed their concern that the new system gave too much power and discretion to judges.

The new law will take effect immediately, but only for future divorces. This will mean that current lifetime alimony payers must continue to pay for life.

Have questions about the new changes in alimony laws?

Contact the Fort Lee Alimony Law Attorneys today or by telephone at 201 346-3800 to speak with an experienced New Jersey Alimony Law Attorney. Free Consultation, and we don’t get paid until you do.

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