Garwood NJ Alimony Reform Attorney
The law is a constantly evolving entity, with modifications and reinterpretations initiated over time through precedential cases, amendments, and of course, new legislation. In 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed Bill A845 into law, implementing significant alterations to New Jersey’s existing alimony legislation, found in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b). With the Alimony Reform Bill, New Jersey saw multiple important changes to its body of law regarding alimony, all of which took effect in September of 2014. These new provisions have serious implications for those divorcing after the bill’s enactment, which is why it is critical to enlist a divorce attorney who remains at the forefront of current case law in this area. To speak about your pending divorce matter and the potential effects of the State’s Alimony Reform Bill on your case, contact the Union County law offices of Attorney Edward S. Cooper at 908-481-4625.
New Jersey’s Alimony Reform Bill
As mentioned above, New Jersey’s Alimony Reform Bill of 2014 brought substantial modifications to the existing alimony statute. Perhaps the most important change contained in this legislation involves the eradication of what was formerly known as “permanent alimony.” As a result of Bill A845, permanent alimony has been replaced with “open durational alimony.” As the term indicates, this new type of alimony has an undetermined end date but allows for the possibility of termination and/or modification of alimony payments in the future. Since the implementation of alimony reform, there are five established types of alimony, including: Pendente Lite (Temporary) Alimony, Open Durational Alimony, Limited Duration Alimony, Rehabilitative Alimony, and Reimbursement Alimony.
The following are other important provisions included in the Alimony Reform Bill:
- For marriages lasting less than 20 years, alimony payments should not extend beyond the length of the marriage
- The statute emphasizes that neither party has a greater entitlement to the marital standard of living than the other
- Each of the factors considered during alimony determinations should be given equal weight and if one is considered more important than the others, the court must explain the reasoning behind this decision in writing
- The statute creates a “rebuttable presumption” that alimony payments will cease when the paying spouse reaches retirement age; this means that it will be assumed that payments should stop at the age of the payer’s retirement unless circumstances exist to support the contrary (Note: this refers to full retirement age, not early retirement)
- The paying spouse can more easily apply for a modification or termination of alimony payments if he or she has been involuntarily unemployed for a period of 90 days
- Alimony payments can be suspended or terminated if the receiving party chooses to cohabit with another person (cohabitation can be proven with intertwined finances, shared living expenses, or co-owned property or other assets)
Exceptional Circumstances of New Jersey’s Alimony Reform Bill
According to the Alimony Reform Bill of 2014, the aforementioned standards should be used to guide alimony assessments and determinations unless one or more of the following exceptional circumstances is relevant:
- The ages of the parties at the time of the marriage or civil union and at the time of the alimony award;
- The degree and duration of the dependency of one party on the other party during the marriage or civil union;
- Whether a spouse or partner has a chronic illness or unusual health circumstance;
- Whether a spouse or partner has given up a career or a career opportunity or otherwise supported the career of the other spouse or partner;
- Whether a spouse or partner has received a disproportionate share of the marital estate;
- The impact of the marriage or civil union on either party’s ability to become self-supporting, including but not limited to either party’s responsibility as primary caretaker of a child;
- Tax considerations of either party; and
- Any other factors or circumstances that the court deems equitable, relevant and material.
*It is also important to note that the changes included in the Alimony Reform Bill do not apply retroactively, meaning that they apply only to divorces that occur during and after the bill’s enactment in 2014.
For additional information and a free consultation about your situation, contact the law offices of Attorney Edward S. Cooper at 908-481-4625.