In 2013, two competing groups introduced separate proposals to change New Jersey alimony laws. While the first proposal would end permanent alimony awards, the second proposal would make it easier for spouses owing alimony to reduce payments or to have payment obligations discontinued. If passed, these proposals would change New Jersey’s permanent alimony obligation, which is only one of four types of alimony available under New Jersey statutes.

Both sexes affected

Critics of permanent alimony claim that the obligation is archaic, in that it was created in an era where women routinely stayed home and raised children. For these women, divorce created the risk of being left with no means of financial support outside of the marriage. However, today, it’s not uncommon for women to owe alimony support at the end of a marriage. In fact, women who make considerably more money than their former husbands may be forced to pay permanent alimony following divorce.

Moderate change

Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, D-Clifton sponsored the second alimony reform bill, which would help those who lose their jobs or suffer a decline in income reduce their alimony obligation. Instead of eliminating alimony altogether, Giblin’s bill would allow people who experience a dramatic change in circumstances apply for alimony reduction after 90 days. In addition, the bill created a method for submitting a “pre-retirement” plan to a judge, which would allow a petitioner to appeal for lower or discontinued payments.

Problems with permanent alimony

Supporters of the bill to end permanent alimony altogether argue that permanent alimony is routinely used in every case in which one spouse earns more. Furthermore, supporters of reform argue that permanent alimony is unnecessary if both partners were always working or if each person has the potential to be financially independent.

Walter K. Schreyer is a New Jersey family attorney with more than 35 years of legal experience. In addition, Mr. Schreyer is admitted to the state bar in both New Jersey and New York. To schedule a free consultation with The Law Firm of Walter K. Schreyer, please call (888) 511-2837.