By now, most everyone has heard that there is a new alimony law in New Jersey, which eliminates “permanent” alimony.
Unfortunately, it’s not.
Here are the basic facts, in common sense language:
- On September 10, 2014, Governor signed into law a bill which made significant changes to the existing New Jersey alimony statute. It’s called the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act of 2014.
- The New Jersey Alimony Reform Act is not a totally new law—it’s a substantial amendment to the existing New Jersey alimony law.
- The term “permanent” alimony has been eliminated. In its place, there is now what is called “open durational” alimony.
- Does that mean that someone will no longer have to pay alimony for the rest of his or her life? Not necessarily.
- Arguably the most significant change in the law is the provision that, for any marriage or civil union that has lasted less than 20 years, the length of the alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage or civil union. So, if you have been married for 15 years–for which New Jersey Family Courts usually granted permanent alimony—alimony will now last for no more than 15 years. But, there is a “catch.”
- That “catch” is “exceptional circumstances.” If a New Jersey Family Court finds that there are “exceptional circumstances,” the length of the alimony can be adjusted.
- The New Jersey Alimony Reform Act lists 7 specific circumstances which constitute “exceptional circumstances,” as well as a catch-all eighth factor which allows a New Jersey Family Court to adjust the length of the alimony based on “[a]ny other factors or circumstances that the court deems equitable, relevant and material.”
- Although the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act became effective immediately (on September 10, 2014), the amendments do not modify the length of the alimony provided for in any then existing:
- Marital Settlement Agreements;
- Judgments of Divorce; or
- Final Court Orders concluding post-Judgment litigation.
So– contrary to what many people believe– if you have any of those things you cannot go to Court and try to use the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act of 2014 to modify the length of the alimony you pay or receive.
However, that is by no means the end of the story. The New Jersey Alimony Reform Act of 2014 made 3 other very significant changes to New Jersey alimony law, including:
- Loss of job.
Each of those changes is important and will be explained in articles that will be posted in the Salvaggio Law Group New Jersey Family Law Blog over the course of the next week.
As can be seen, issues relating to New Jersey alimony are anything but simple, and you really need a very experienced New Jersey alimony lawyer to explain to you and help you sort out all of those issues.