The possibility of having to pay an ex-spouse alimony until the time of their death makes seeking a divorce a particularly tricky subject in the state of New Jersey. This quirk in New Jersey divorce laws is owed largely to the time when gender inequality was a more normal part of American culture and married women were expected to fill the role of loving, caring housewives.
Spousal support was an important aspect of seeking divorce then because it guaranteed the continued survival of the less productive spouse. It also discouraged couples from separating over petty concerns that could seriously jeopardize the financial stability of one of the parties to the marriage. In today’s modern world, however, a large majority of women are able to secure and maintain successful careers, and these laws no longer apply as they used to.
Fortunately, momentum is growing to change the archaic alimony laws to reflect current cultural conditions and encourage fairness for both parties to divorce. Two bills have been proposed in the New Jersey General Assembly that aim to amend the outdated alimony law, remove the phrase “perpetual alimony,” and clarify the modification and termination of alimony.
New Jerseyans who are thinking of filing for divorce, are currently in the midst of divorce proceedings, or are affected by perceived unfairness in their alimony requirements may expect the amendments to benefit them, if and when they are approved.
Under the reformed statutes, the length of time that one party to the divorce would be required to pay alimony will be limited depending on the length of the marriage. For marriages of five years or less, alimony payments will last up to 50 percent of number of months the couple was married. Sixty percent of the total months would be awarded for marriages of five to 10 years, 70 percent for marriages of 10 to 15 years, and 80 percent for marriages of 15 to 20 years.
Additionally, the alimony awarded to recipient spouses would be limited by their need, or between 30 to 35 percent of the difference between the individual gross incomes of the divorcing spouses. The courts would, however, be able to deviate from the guidelines limiting the amount with a written finding that justifies that course of action.
State residents are encouraged to consult with experienced NJ divorce lawyers, like the Romanowski Law Offices in Middlesex and Monmouth counties, to find out in more detail about the impact that alimony reform might have on their divorces. If the amendments come into fruition, there is a possibility that divorcees finding their alimony payments overly burdensome may be able to seek a modification with the help of their trusted NJ divorce attorney.
(Source: Will New Jersey Lawmakers Find Common Ground on Alimony Reform?, NJ.com, April 15, 2014)