NJSBA Supports Smart and Balanced Approach to Alimony Reform

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For Immediate Release

Kate Coscarelli
Sr. Director, Communications

NEW BRUNSWICK –The New Jersey State Bar Association, the state’s largest organization of lawyers, judges and legal professionals, endorses the alimony reform efforts adopted by the Assembly Judiciary Committee today. It is a smart, realistic and balanced approach to reforming alimony laws that will protect the residents of New Jersey. A similar measure is pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

This measure is the best possible approach to address the issues raised by a broad coalition of organizations about the state of New Jersey’s alimony laws. As an organization whose members include attorneys who represent those who pay alimony and those who receive it, the NJSBA cheers the Assembly Judiciary Committees passage of this measure and is hopeful the measure will be adopted and signed into law. 

This legislation strikes an important balance by recognizing that each marriage is unique, while providing a level of predictability to all those involved in the process. 

“The New Jersey State Bar Association considers it among our highest priorities to ensure that any legislation touching upon alimony is just and fair to all. Through the persistence, patience and dedicated efforts of the officers of the NJSBA Family Law Executive Committee we have helped to guide our legislative leadership to achieve meaningful and balanced alimony reform. The changes reflected in the proposed legislation incorporate many years of evolving case law and the realities of 21st Century economics,” said NJSBA President Paris P. Eliades. 

The NJSBA worked hard to craft the legislation, which provides practical circumstances under which someone can request and receive a modification or termination of alimony. It also provides for considerations related to changes in economic circumstances, cohabitation and retirement of the parties. 

Importantly, it offers those involved in matrimonial disputes reasonable guidelines to ensure a predictable outcome, while at the same time preserving judicial discretion and fairness to ensure that each case is examined based on its individual merits. 

"The Family Law Section worked tirelessly to develop this landmark legislation and is proud that the outcome remains true to our core principles of ensuring that the change to alimony was a measured blend of fairness and predictability to both sides in a divorce. We are thankful to all members of our coalition and those who worked collaboratively in this effort," said Family Law Section Chair Jeralyn Lawrence.  

Some key elements of this measure are: 

 It is prospective, rather than retroactive.
 In marriages of less than 20 years the total duration of alimony would not be longer than the length of the marriage, except in exceptional circumstances.
 It eliminates the misleading term “permanent alimony,” and replaces it with open durational alimony.
 It allows modifications after 90 days of unemployment.
It provides factors to determine cohabitation and permits the suspension or termination of alimony based on those factors.