Started by a professor at Rutgers, a grassroots movement swept through New Jersey and changed the way we now calculate alimony during a divorce. This group was the catalyst for the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act of 2014.
Why was it needed? For years, we saw many cases where an individual’s financial picture was decimated when required to pay an exorbitant amount in alimony, leaving them little money to live on. Now, the Court has more specific guidelines to follow when determining final alimony settlements.
For those of you currently moving through the divorce process, here are a few key points that will impact your divorce in the Garden State:
- Permanent alimony has been eliminated. Alimony can be modified or terminated at the age of 67 by application to the Court.
- An alimony term can no longer be longer than the actual number of years of the marriage, unless there are “exceptional circumstances”. For example, if you were married for ten (10) years, your alimony term cannot be for more than ten (10) years. However, if you were married for twenty (20) years, your term likely will be an “open durational” term.
- Now there is a timeframe for modification of alimony due to a change in circumstance, such as unemployment and more specific guidelines for modification or termination of alimony due to the cohabitation of the payee.
- The new Act is not applied retroactively. Therefore, if you are already divorced, you are not allowed to renegotiate based on the new law. However, the statute does apply to all future divorces.
We need to remember that the Act is relatively new and will need to be tested and closely watched as it moves through the legal system. Also, this Act is just a set of guidelines. Judges still have discretion and with the help of your attorneys you can still negotiate outside of the guidelines.
If you are going through a divorce here in New Jersey, it is critical for you to discuss your options with a qualified and experienced attorney. In many ways your financial future is on the line and you will need help taking the necessary steps to protect yourself.