In New Jersey divorces, the most hotly contested issues tend to be either child custody and visitation, or property division. When it comes to property division, the courts are tasked with ensuring this is done in a way that is fair and equitable, and the same somewhat vague guideline is used to determine spousal support–or alimony–orders.
Many people do not like the broad discretion that judges may take when it comes to spousal support in particular, and this has spurred a movement for alimony reform in the state. Proponents of alimony reform want strict guidelines to be put into place for judges to follow in awarding alimony, and they also want to do away with lifetime alimony. The debate over alimony reform is not new in New Jersey, but the issue is continuing to garner attention from state lawmakers.
While some people say alimony laws in the state are outdated, it is important to note that many people do disagree. In fact, opponents of reform tend to think that it is best for judges to have a great deal of discretion in deciding spousal support disputes because each case is very unique. Those who are on this side of the battle feel that guidelines would create a one-size-fits-all approach, which would not work well in writing spousal support orders.
Whether the alimony reform movement will ultimately result in new legislation is unknown. However, around 12 other states have put alimony guidelines into place in their family law courts, and several other states are considering following suit.
Under New Jersey’s current laws, it is beneficial for those who are going through a divorce to discuss their alimony concerns with their family law attorneys. Skilled attorneys will attempt to protect these interests as much as possible. Additionally, if an alimony order becomes no longer appropriate–perhaps due to a job change, or another issue–it is always possible to go back to court to request a modification.
Source: The Daily Record, “Fair or Cruel? Battle over alimony payments percolates in N.J.,” Dustin Racioppi, Feb. 21, 2013