New Jersey’s Alimony Reform Movement
Yesterday, New Jersey State Senator Sean Kean, a Republican from the 11th Legislative District (Monmouth), announced he would introduce legislation that would establish a panel to study reforming New Jersey’s alimony laws. Currently, several states are studying alimony reform after Massachusetts amended its alimony statute on September 26, 2011. The recent Massachusetts alimony reform law limits alimony payments according to length of marriage, ends payments upon remarriage of the recipient of alimony, as well as suspending, reducing, or even terminating alimony upon cohabitation of the recipient with a new mate for 3 months or more.
This announcement hardly means that New Jersey’s alimony laws are about to change. The proposed legislation is not to change New Jersey’s current alimony laws but to study the impact of possible changes to the law. While Senator Kane’s public support for alimony reform is significant he will be retiring as a New Jersey State Senator at the end of this legislative session. As a result of New Jersey’s legislative redistricting Kean will return to the legislature as an Assemblyman in the 30th distict in January. Lastly, it is unclear whether this legislation will even make it out of committee for consideration by the entire legislature.
At DeMichele and DeMichele we are monitoring this issue in the legislature and in the court of public opinion. We will continue to provide updates as to the status of this movement and any changes to the status of law. If you or a loved one have questions regarding alimony, the enforcement of alimony orders, or the modification of alimony orders contact us or call us at (856)546-1350 to schedule a consultation with our experienced New Jersey alimony attorneys.
The full text of New Jersey State Senator Sean Kean’s December 28, 2011 press release is below.
Senator Sean Kean to Submit Legislation Establishing Blue Ribbon Panel to Study Alimony Reform
“As an attorney, I believe existing law does not set adequate limits on the length and amount of alimony payments or provide for adjustments as a result of changed life circumstances for the payer,” said Kean. “An individual divorced thirty years prior could still be required to make payments to his or her spouse while in retirement, irrespective of changes in his or her income or other life events.”
Under New Jersey law, a judge can award lifetime alimony in a divorce judgment for marriages lasting as few as 10 years, with no provision for adjustments to the award in the event that the spouse required to make payments loses employment or earnings, or is faced with a financially burdensome medical condition.
Senator Kean is working in conjunction with Tom Leustek of New Jersey Alimony Reform (www.njalimonyreform.org), an advocacy group committed to making alimony laws fair to both spouses involved in a divorce proceeding.
“Divorce should mark the end of a failed marriage and the start of independent lives, not a new relationship based on limitless and unconditional payments to one ex-spouse accompanied by acrimony and endless court proceedings,” said Leustek. “Alimony should serve as a transitional aid for both men and women – so that both parties may live free, pursue happiness, and lead dignified lives as productive members of society.”
Senator Kean noted that child support is an issue apart from alimony and would not be the subject of the blue ribbon panel’s investigation or resulting legislation.
“Clearly, alimony may be an appropriate financial payment as part of a divorce decree, but there needs to be common sense limits to what is a highly onerous judgment for the party responsible for paying,” Kean continued. “I think New Jersey would do well to take a page from states like Texas, Florida, and Massachusetts that have passed or are currently considering laws that establish alimony as a limited transition for one spouse to financially stabilize and improve earnings potential that was lost as part of his or her marriage.”