On Thursday, the New Jersey Assembly Judiciary Committee issued a unanimous recommendation to pass legislation fundamentally changing the way alimony is awarded in most New Jersey divorces.
The bill – Assembly No. 845 – revises the laws concerning alimony by eliminating permanent alimony in most cases and establishing guidelines concerning the amount and duration of other types of alimony.
As reported by the NJ Law Journal, the bill establishes guidelines for judges to follow when determining limited-duration alimony, based on the length of the marriage or civil union:
• If the couple was together for five years or less, the term of alimony would be a maximum of half the number of months of the marriage or civil union.
• If the duration of the relationship was between five and 10 years, the term of alimony would be a maximum of 60 percent of the number of months of the marriage or civil union.
• For a marriage or civil union that lasted between 10 and 15 years, the term of alimony would a maximum of 70 percent of the number of months of the relationship.
• If the marriage or civil union lasted 15 to 20 years, that amount would be a maximum of 80 percent of the number of months of the relationship.
• For a marriage or civil union that lasts 20 or more, the judge would have discretion to award alimony for an indefinite period of time.
The bill also states that limited-duration alimony should not exceed the recipient’s needs or 30 to 35 percent difference between the parties’ gross incomes.
Bill sponsors include Assembly members Charles Mainor (Hudson), Sean T. Kean (Monmouth and Ocean), Benjie Wimberly (Bergen and Passaic), Angela Jimenez (Bergen and Hudosn), and Craig J. Coughlin (Middlesex).
According to Mainor, the Judiciary Committee’s approval is major step forward for the alimony reform movement, but the bill should still be acceptable to those who wish to keep current standards.
“We’ve reached a point where both sides are satisfied,” said one of the chief sponsors, Assemblyman Charles Mainor, D-Hudson told the Law Journal, referring groups who want the changes made and those who wanted the system to remain the same. “Our current alimony laws are ancient.”
What’s next? The bill will go before the full Assembly for debate and an eventual vote. A similar measure has also been introduced in the State Senate. If passed, the combined bill will go to Governor Christie.
We will keep you posted on this important topic!
For current rules concerning this topic, please see our New Jersey Alimony resource section.