After years of toiling under outdated alimony laws, advocates for change gained a win last fall when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill which would update the state’s alimony proceedings and structures. At Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman & Stahl we’ve compiled the top four changes to NJ’s alimony laws that you need to know.
- Reduced payments for the unemployed. Under the old law, payments of alimony could be reduced if you lost your position, but this was an unwritten portion and the length of unemployment was at the discretion of a judge, many of whom would require the unemployment period to be at least a year. Now, you can ask for lower payments on your alimony after being unemployed for three months, which makes it much more fair for someone without income to get back on their feet without the extra pressure of alimony payments based on their previous income.
- It’s mostly only relevant for new divorces. Except for the retirement age stipulation, which says that anyone who is paying lifetime alimony can stop those payments when they retire, the majority of the changes in this new alimony law only affect couples who are not yet divorced. For those new couples, there are some serious changes to lifetime alimony along as well.
- Alimony is not forever. Perhaps one of the biggest changes in the new alimony laws, permanent alimony has been done away with, and many other payments shortened to correspond with the length of the onetime marriage. Once a person making payments to their former spouse has reached the federal retirement age of 67, they can apply to a judge to have their monthly payments reduced or stopped entirely. For marriage lasting for less than 20 years, the new law also rules that alimony cannot be paid for longer than the length of the marriage. These new portions of the alimony law come as a way of updating the system from a time when women did no work outside of the home and were more financially dependent on their husband.
- Additional restrictions for new live-in relationships. As was already law, a former partner can no longer receive benefits from their ex-spouse once they begin to reside with someone new, married or not. The new law further clarifies the guidelines for this requirement, as many people would regularly work to find loopholes around this law. Some common strategies to avoid losing alimony benefits included living at a partner’s house while being registered at a small apartment or room elsewhere or listing other unaffiliated addresses. The new law will crack down on anyone trying to avoid the legal processes for this ending.
If you are currently paying alimony or working through a divorce where alimony is on the table, you need an experienced attorney on your side that is also up to date with the newest of legal definitions and proceedings. We work hard to represent your needs for each individual case. With more than 50 years of experience in central NJ, you can count on our team to serve you right. Give attorneys a call today at 732-422-1000 to learn more about how we can help you.