Legislation would establish Blue Ribbon Commission to review New Jersey’s alimony laws and suggest changes
Kean’s efforts are part of a larger national movement that has received extra attention due to the down economy. Last fall, Massachusetts adopted alimony an alimony reform law (1) limiting alimony payments depending uipon the length of the marriage, and (2) suspending payments upon remarriage, and (3) terminating or reducing alimony when the recipient cohabitates with a new partner for a period of three three or more months.
Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Sean Kean, R-Monmouth and Ocean, that would create an 11-member Blue Ribbon Commission to review New Jersey’s alimony law and propose avenues of reform, was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday.
Kean, a practicing attorney, is a longtime advocate for reforming alimony laws. In February, he sponsored related legislation, A-685, that provides for modification of child support and certain alimony payments due to changed circumstances. That bill was also approved by the same committee.
“Establishing a commission that is focused on studying alimony laws and making practical recommendations is the most effective way to reform an antiquated system,” said Kean. “While there are guidelines for courts to consider in determining alimony, there is not a specific formula for a family court to use in its calculation. Alimony should help a person as they transition to self-sustaining employment. It should not be a lifetime financial obligation on the individual making payments.
“Society has changed quite a bit since the alimony laws were written,” continued Kean. “Changes in lifestyle, earning power and employment status are factors that need to be examined and updated when determining if, and how much a settlement should be. There are too many stories of spouses who have been financially crippled or jailed because their circumstances have changed. The law needs to be brought up to date.”
Within nine months of organizing, the commission will issue a report to the governor and to the Legislature detailing its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation. The Blue Ribbon Commission will review the scope of State alimony laws as compared with those in other states, trends in alimony awards, and whether current economic conditions have affected trends in State alimony awards.