New Jersey is among several other states that have challenged their current alimony laws, which are said to be more onerous than practical and just. In New Jersey, and popping up elsewhere across the country, activists contend that the conditions have changed since alimony laws were enacted. Many more women are working and possess college degrees now than in previous generations.
A joint resolution is now before the assembly in New Jersey. It’s calling for a commission named the “Blue Ribbon Commission to Study Alimony Reform” that will consist of state lawmakers and marital law professionals to explore avenues of potential change in the state’s current alimony laws. The Blue Ribbon Commission, which will consist of 11 members–both men and women– is expected to propose new legislation at the end of the study and make any necessary recommendations to the governor within nine months of the formation of the commission.
Currently, alimony laws and decisions vary greatly among and within states as judges typically have a large amount of discretion in alimony cases. Alimony payers in New Jersey and across the country contend that alimony payments should not financially devastate the payer, reduce retirement plans or give exes incentive to not remarry and find employment after divorce.
There are opponents against changing alimony laws, naturally, and many say that enacting more legislation will needlessly undermine judicial discretion. The debate regarding alimony change in New Jersey is a reflection of what’s happening throughout the U.S.
Family, economic and employment trends change over time. It’s only natural that family laws, with the financial matters that are involved, would have to catch up with the changes.
Source: The New York Times, “In Age of Dual Incomes, Alimony Payers Prod States to Update Laws,” Lizette Alvarez, March 4, 2012