When a marriage ends, it can have devastating effects for both parties that go beyond emotional damages. Each spouse will need to learn how to stay on top of their finances without the dual income they may have become accustomed to during their marriage.
In New Jersey, the laws surrounding alimony, which is awarded to one spouse in order to aid the financial burdens of a dissolved marriage, have faced many changes in recent years. Most notably, Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill in September 2014 meant to update the often referred to “antiquated system” for spousal support in the Garden State.
Although this new bill has been in effect for nearly two years, there are five aspects of the law that have been fundamentally changed that many residents do not know about.
Previously, divorcing couples could have been faced with “permanent” alimony orders following their settlement. Previously, men were considered the only financial support of households, but advocates argued that this viewpoint was no longer relevant in today’s family law landscape whereby the majority of women also work outside of the home.
The law also added that marriages less than 20 years can no longer be granted alimony payments that go beyond the number of years the couple was married. For example, a spouse married for four years can be awarded alimony for a maximum of four years.
In the past, payments ended once the supported spouse receiving the checks began to live with a new partner, regardless of marital status. However, this was easily circumvented. Under the new law, more specific guidelines for cohabitation have been set in order to protect the paying spouse.
In the past, those paying alimony could reduce their payments if they were unemployed, but a judge would typically rule that the payer would have to be unemployed for at least a year before the payments could decrease. Under the new bill, payments can be reduced as soon as three months without work. Lawmakers advocated this aspect of the bill in order to ensure those without work would not financially fail due to the spousal support payments they were legally required to make.
For those who have already settled their case, the new laws doe alimony may not affect them due to the fact that the contractual agreements have already been set in place. However, there are new retirement age clauses that could benefit those currently paying lifetime alimony, as they will be able to apply to end spousal support payments when they reach the required retirement age.
For those facing divorce, the road can seem long and daunting. Ensure your rights and interests are protected and will result in reasonable and agreeable terms for both you and your spouse. Contact a New Jersey divorce lawyer at the Law Offices of Kisha M. Hebbon, LLC today. Contact us online or call 732-873-6464 to review the details of your case.
We represent clients throughout New Jersey including Somerset County, Middlesex County, Union County and including but not limited to the towns of Somerset, Franklin, Bridgewater, New Brunswick, East Brunswick, Plainfield, Edison, Metuchen, Woodbridge, Piscataway, Old Bridge, Rahway, Linden, Elizabeth, Cranford, Summit, Union, Clark, Elizabeth, Berkeley Heights, and Scotch Plains.