Are New Jersey’s Alimony Laws Due for an Update?


alimony (Photo credit: Kalense Kid)

Massachusetts recently updated its alimony laws to reflect our changing times. (1) Will New Jersey soon follow the example? If after reading the following you need assistance with an alimony issue, particularly in Hunterdon County, contact the family law attorneys at The Rotolo Law Firm in Lebanon.

Approval was recently given by the New Jersey Assembly Judiciary Committee to appoint a commission to review the State’s alimony laws. The committee would consist of 11 members and would have 9 months to complete a study of the State’s current alimony laws, on their own and as compared with the laws of other states, and make recommendations for changes to the Legislature and governor. (2)

Alimony is a support payment from one spouse to another after a marriage is terminated. It is separate from child support, but both forms of support are subject to garnishment of wages and other enforcement actions. (3)

Currently, there are four types of alimony allowable in New Jersey: permanent, rehabilitative, limited duration, and reimbursement alimony. However, New Jersey has no set formula for determining alimony arrangements. Instead these decisions are made at the discretion of the judge hearing the specific case. (3) Those who support a change in the laws say this discretion is too wide, while opponents argue that the discretion is necessary because circumstances surrounding each divorce case are so varied.

One of the main areas reformists want to change is permanent alimony. Although it is rarely awarded in this State, the potential is still there. Permanent, or lifetime, alimony, the reformists claim, does not take into consideration potential changes in either spouse’s financial circumstances. In today’s economic environment that poses problems.

This past February, the Assembly Judiciary Committee approved a bill that allowed for modifications of alimony and child support payments if the paying spouse faced a significant financial change due to such circumstances as loss of a job or a disability. Under that bill, however, the paying spouse would have to be unemployed or unable to work for at least six months before petitioning the court for a change in his or her support obligations. Then, it could take almost a year for a judge to hear that petition. (4)

The purpose of alimony is the make sure the divorce settlement for both spouses is fair and equitable. Whether or not New Jersey’s current alimony laws meet this end or need revision is yet to be seen. In the meantime, if you or someone you know needs help with an alimony issue in Hunterdon County, the family law attorneys at The Rotolo Law Firm have the experience and expertise to assist you. The Rotolo Law Firm is conveniently located in Lebanon, NJ, which is in close proximity to Clinton and Flemington.



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