On September 10, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act into law. The Alimony Reform Act served as a significant amendment to New Jersey’s prior alimony statute, which were viewed by some as outdated and out of touch with contemporary notions of what is fair and equitable in a divorce.
Major Changes in the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act
The Alimony Reform Act contains a number of important changes. If you are going through a divorce in New Jersey, you should speak with an attorney who is familiar with the new law and can help you understand how it applies to your individual situation. At Romanowski Law Offices, we are actively representing clients in alimony matters statewide.
Some of the most significant changes in the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act are as follows:
Limits for Marriages Lasting Fewer than 20 Years – If your marriage lasted fewer than 20 years, the courts cannot grant alimony payments that exceed the length of the marriage except under exceptional circumstances. Possible “exceptional circumstances” include:
- The spouses’ ages at the time of marriage and divorce
- The degree and duration of dependency of one spouse on the other during the marriage
- Whether either spouse has a chronic illness or other serious health condition
- A disproportionate equitable distribution
- The impact of the marriage on either spouse’s ability to become self-supporting
- Adverse tax implications
Clarifying Each Spouse’s Right to Maintain Their Standard of Living – While the previous alimony statute included the spouses’ prior standard of living as a factor to be considered in calculating alimony, the new reforms include a clarification that neither spouse should have “a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other.” This has always been true under controlling case law.
Ending Alimony Upon Cohabitation – Under the revised law, the New Jersey courts have the power to terminate or suspend alimony payments to a former spouse who cohabitates with a new partner, short or remarriage. Our Courts have long had the ability to modify an alimony award upon cohabitation, and this power arguably continues.
Reducing Obligations for Out-of-Work Payers – If you have been out of work for 90 days or longer, you can now seek to have your alimony payment obligation reduced.
The End of Permanent Alimony in New Jersey
Along with these changes, perhaps the single most important change brought about by the Alimony Reform Act is that it brings a close to permanent alimony in New Jersey. The words “permanent alimony” in the statute are replaced with “open durational alimony.” If a payor party should elect to retire upon reaching the age where he or she would be eligible for full social security benefits, the retirement will be rebuttably presumed to be in good faith. That does not necessarily mean that alimony will end, because the presumption can be rebutted under certain circumstances. This presumption applies not only to new divorces, but arguably to existing permanent alimony awards as well. Read more about the current alimony options under New Jersey law.
Romanowski Law Offices | Trusted Authorities on NJ Divorce
The family law attorneys at Romanowski Law Offices are widely recognized as experienced and knowledgeable in all divorce-related matters under New Jersey law, including the changes under the Alimony Reform Act. If you would like to speak with one of our lawyers about your divorce, please call (732) 603-8585 or request an expert consultation online today.