New Jersey recently passed a bill (A845) which updates/modifies alimony regulations, and while some believe the new law doesn’t make all the changes necessary, it is seen as a step in the right direction.
Let’s address some of the basic points:
- 20 Years or Less – While a judge can still require alimony for an “open duration” or make recommendations based on exceptional circumstances, in most situations alimony going forward (for new divorcees) can only apply for the length of the marriage if it is less than 20 years. For example, if you were together for a span of 9 years, you would only be required to submit alimony payments for that same duration.
- Alimony Ends at Retirement – Another new adjustment is that alimony, in most cases, will end once an individual hits the retirement age of 67. This age limit may provide another logical end point to an otherwise permanent circumstance.
- Unemployment Relief – While a person previously needed to be unemployed between 9-12 months before any reduction in payment occurred, now that time period has been reduced to a more modest 3 months. This adjustment eases the financial burden on someone with no cash coming in, particularly in tough financial hardships.
- Tighter Cohabitation Rules – Finally, these modifications place stricter more specific guidelines and conditions on alimony receivers who are in new relationships. These rules provide room for judges to eliminate/expire payments if a new live-in partner is present despite the absence of marriage; this is referred to as cohabitation.
Many object that judges are still given too much leeway, and that these terms will mostly affect new marriages/divorces instead of current alimony situations. However, these changes were considered necessary, and while some believe that they are small steps in ultimate alimony reform, there always needs to be a starting point.