Wednesday, December 2, 2015

New Jersey 2014 Alimony Reform

The Zohn & Zohn law firm has a good overview of the new alimony law in New Jersey.
  • So-called permanent alimony was eliminated, and a new alimony category was created – open duration alimony. Now there are four types of alimony: open duration, limited duration, rehabilitative and reimbursement. Open duration alimony is now limited to 20-year-plus marriages. For marriages shorter than 20 years, the alimony term cannot exceed the marriage length, barring exceptional circumstances. I say that permanent alimony was “so -called” because it was always subject to modification or elimination based on the paying spouse’s retirement, the recipient’s remarriage, or other factors.
  • The statute explicitly addresses the paying spouse’s retirement, and acknowledges the assumption that the paying spouse will not have an alimony obligation after reaching retirement age. Retirement age is generally defined by Social Security rules.
  • The statute identifies specific rules for modifying alimony based on a changes of circumstance. If a non-self employed spouse want to modify alimony, the court must investigate the reasons for reduced income and the efforts to become employed at the previous level. If the paying spouse become unemployed, this spouse can apply to the court for an alimony change after being unemployed for 90 days.
  • The statute contains explicit provisions to modify or terminate alimony if the recipient spouse cohabits with another person. The court will look at intertwined finances, joint responsibility for expenses, the length of the relationship and other factors. They court may not reject a finding of cohabitation merely because the recipient spouse does not live with the other person full-time.

Most if it is good, especially the replacement of permanent alimony by open duration alimony and limiting even that to marriages of 20+ years. So if Spring had divorced me today in New Jersey I would, by law, not be burdened with permanent alimony or even open duration alimony as our marriage was less than 20 years.

The bad part is that it doesn't affect anyone who is already paying alimony. That is exactly like if the Emancipation Proclamation had only freed newly born slaves not current slaves.

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