Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Are The New Jersey Alimony Laws Fair? Ten Criteria Used to Determine Alimony Now

Lifetime Alimony Driving People To The Brink

In the state of New Jersey there are several types of spousal support, permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony, and restitutional or reimbursement alimony. Permanent alimony is paid indefinitely, until adjusted by a court or one of the ex-spouses dies. Rehabilitative and restitutional alimony are ordered for a specific length of time. In cases where alimony is warranted, one needs to establish the appropriate amount of spousal support payments and whether the support payments will be permanent or temporary.

Photo Cridit flickr.com
New Jersey has established specific criteria of for determining whether spousal support should be paid:
  • The length of the marriage
  • The need for and ability to pay spousal support
  • The physical and emotional health of the parties
  • The age of the parties
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The parties' earning capability, education, and employability
  • The length of absence from the job market
  • Parental responsibilities for the children
  • The tax consequences of alimony
  • Any other factor which the court deems relevant
These factors are used as guidelines to determine if spousal support is appropriate, and if so, the amount and length of spousal support payment. However, the court also has the right to use any other factor it deems relevant in awarding spousal maintenance.

If you are considering divorce and have questions about alimony, please contact Aretsky & Aretsky.
Our attorneys work closely with our clients to understand their situation and develop legal strategies to obtain spousal support arrangements that meet their needs. Our attorneys can be reached by phone at 201-445-5856.
New Jersey lawmaker looks to update alimony rules after advocacy group claims lifetime punishment.
To read the full acticule click here.
Fairness must be put back into divorce court, an advocacy group in New Jersey is arguing, pushing legislation to update what it says are antiquated alimony laws that disproportionately favor the recipients of alimony, regardless of changing circumstances. 

"Lifetime alimony and the family court system in New Jersey are driving real people to the brink," Tom Leustek, president and founder of New Jersey Alimony Reform, told FoxNews.com. "My own divorce resulted in a lifetime alimony order in 2008. I remember during one of the court hearings, the judge saying to me, 'It's not fair, but it's the law.'"

Alimony, or spousal support, is an amount of money paid by one spouse after a divorce to enable the lower-income spouse to cover living expenses.

Leustek, a professor at a local university, contends that many of his state's alimony laws are slanted because they were established in the 1940s and 1950s when women were largely stay-at-home mothers and men were considered the principal income earner.

Leustak has won the ear of Republican state Sen. Sean Kean, who is sponsoring legislation that seeks a plan to overhaul Garden State alimony laws like lifetime payments.

"In New Jersey, an individual divorced 30 years ago could still be required to make payments to his or her spouse while in retirement, irrespective of changes in income or other life events," Kean said. "The existing law doesn't set adequate limits on the length and amount of alimony payments or provide for adjustments as a result of changed life circumstances.”

Kean introduced a bill on Tuesday, the first day of the new legislative session, that would set up a panel to study reforms. The senator noted that the issue of child support will not be part of the panel's
investigation or resulting legislation.

Under New Jersey law, a judge may award lifetime alimony in a divorce judgment for marriages lasting as few as 10 years. Unless the spouse required to make payments successfully petitions the court, there is no legal provision for adjustments in the event of a loss of employment or earnings or a financially burdensome medical condition.

Thirteen factors currently influence New Jersey alimony judgments. They include: the need and ability of both parties; duration of the union; age and health of both parties; the standard of living and earning capacity of both parties; and the distribution of property. The state does not take into account fault for the break up of a marriage, over-spending or financial irresponsibility, credit card abuse or unwillingness to work.

Spousal support payments are ordered to provide for the financial needs of a spouse after a divorce. At Aretsky & Aretsky, in Bergen County, New Jersey, we are committed to working with clients to help ensure alimony payments are established in accordance with the economic needs and means of each spouse.

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Hackensack, N.J. 07601
Phone: 201-580-3411
Fax: 201-445-5867

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