Bill Calls for End to Permanent Alimony, Other Reforms

unhappy%20couple.jpgThe State Assembly currently is considering legislation to end permanent alimony and clarify the guidelines under which other forms of alimony are awarded. (1)

In New Jersey, there are four main variations of alimony that can be awarded upon the end of a marriage or civil union: limited duration alimony, rehabilitative alimony, reimbursement alimony, and permanent alimony. (1)

Limited duration alimony is the most common. Also known as term alimony, this is payable only for a specified time and is usually intended to give the receiving spouse enough time to become financially self-sufficient. Rehabilitative alimony is also payable for a specified time, usually long enough for a dependent partner to gain the training and/or education needed to find employment. Reimbursement alimony is awarded when one partner makes financial sacrifices to enable the other partner to further his or her education in an effort to improve earnings potential. And finally, permanent alimony is usually awarded in the dissolution of long-term marriages or unions, particularly when the earnings potentials of the partners are drastically unequal due to one spouse sacrificing education and/or career goals in order to take care of the family. New Jersey also has a temporary, or “pendent lite” alimony, which is awarded to help take care of the living expenses of an unemployed or low-earning spouse during divorce proceedings. (2)

The bill currently before the Assembly would eliminate permanent alimony, which has long been criticized for not taking into consideration changing circumstances which the payee may experience. Although permanent alimony awards can be modified, such modifications required the payee to petition the court for a change. (3)

The bill would also establish time limits for limited duration alimony; currently those limits are set by the court. Under the new bill, the duration for these payments would be no longer than half the length of the marriage or union. Judges would retain discretion in awards for marriages that lasted more than 20 years. (3)

The bill proposes other significant changes to existing alimony laws. First, rehabilitative alimony would have a limited term of five years, unless extended at the court’s discretion based on specific guidelines; (1) second, alimony payments would cease when the paying partner reached retirement age; (3) and third, alimony could be suspended or ended completely if the receiving spouse moved in with another partner and cohabitated with that person for at least three months. (1)

If adopted, the new bill could take effect as early as this October 1. If that happens, the new law would allow certain existing alimony awards to be modified to comply with the new guidelines. Requests for such modifications must be made within two years of the new law’s effective date. (1)

If you or someone you know has questions regarding alimony issues, particularly in Hunterdon County, contact the family law attorneys at The Rotolo Law Firm.



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