New Jersey Reforms Alimony Rules, Following Connecticut’s Example

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently signed a bill in his state that includes a number of key changes to current alimony laws. Although some advocates say the reform effort does not go far enough, it does change many aspects of a system that some have described as archaic and unfair.

Among the changes include a new rule that spousal support payments cannot last for a time period longer than the marriage itself, as long as the couple was married for fewer than 20 years. Judges do have the power to override the rule, however, if they believe there are exceptional circumstances involved in the divorce. In addition, courts will now have the ability to lower or end payments under certain circumstances, such as when an ex-spouse moves in with someone else or if the individual paying the alimony is out of work for more than 90 days.

The bill in New Jersey comes after a similar successful effort in Connecticut in 2013. Last year, Governor Dannel Malloy signed HB6688, which included new standards by which courts could consider whether or not to award alimony, as well as the duration and amount. Now, judges must look at each spouse’s education and earning capacity and carefully consider all evidence both parties present when arguing their case.

The National Parents Organization praised the efforts in Connecticut last year, saying that they would bring greater fairness to the divorce process statewide. The organization is less thrilled with New Jersey’s changes, although it believes they provide a good start to comprehensive reform.

Even though there have been some significant changes to alimony law in Connecticut recently, you still need an attorney to help guide you through the process, whether you are seeking spousal support or would like to reduce or eliminate the amount you might have to pay after a divorce. To learn more about your options, speak with an experienced Stamford divorce lawyer at Siegel, Reilly & Kaufman, LLC.