Bill Proposes A New Tiered System
The Senate is considering a bill that would end permanent alimony in New Jersey. This would have wide implications if passed. Among other changes, ex-spouses in the state would no longer be required to pay alimony for the rest of their lives.
The bill, which is modeled after a similar law in Massachusetts, would also establish guidelines for the amount and duration of alimony. In essence, it would create a tiered system that would allow judges to award less to ex-spouses in shorter-term marriages and more to those in longer-term marriages.
Current law grants permanent alimony
Current law allows judges to award permanent alimony to spouses who were married more than 10 years. The bill proposes giving judges the discretion to award alimony for an indefinite period of time in marriages that lasted 20 years or more.
Current New Jersey law says judges must consider the following in determining alimony amount
- Needs of the child
- Standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent
- All sources of income and assets of each parent
- Earning ability of each parent, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, custodial responsibility for children including the cost of providing child care and the length of time and cost of each parent to obtain training or experience for appropriate employment
- Need and capacity of the child for education, including higher education
- Age and health of the child and each parent
- Income, assets and earning ability of the child
- Responsibility of the parents for the court-ordered support of others
- Reasonable debts and liabilities of each child and parent
- Any other factors the court may deem relevant.
Survey shows support for bill
A poll on nj.com showed that 3,177 respondents (91 percent) favor doing away with permanent alimony. The survey elicited 40 responses, mostly from people currently paying alimony.
“Permanent alimony may be appropriate in the rarest of cases but should not be the rule. Objective criteria and set support guidelines are the fairest way to go,” one respondent commented. “Being married for 10 years or more should not sentence one to a lifetime of indentured servitude because your marriage failed!”
The bill was introduced a few months ago in the Assembly and was referred to the Senate a few days ago. The bill, which would become law effective Oct. 1, 2013 if passed, is modeled after a similar law in Massachusetts.
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