February 06, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- A marriage is an economic arrangement as much as it is a social relationship. When a marriage ends, financial matters are at the forefront of divorce proceedings.
Many divorces, in New Jersey and elsewhere, involve awards of alimony -- otherwise known as spousal support
. When a judge awards alimony in divorce proceedings, the breadwinner of the family is expected to make payments to his or her former spouse after the marriage has ended.
But should judges have unrestrained discretion to set the amount and duration of alimony payments? There is a growing call in New Jersey to limit divorce court judges by joining the growing list of states that have passed alimony reform laws.
Lawmakers discuss limiting lifetime alimony
New Jersey's alimony laws were last studied and significantly revised 35 years ago. At that time, only women received alimony; today, high-earning women are increasingly being ordered to pay alimony to their former husbands. Alimony is awarded in 15 to 17 percent of New Jersey divorce cases
Currently, it is up to the judge whether it is the husband or the wife who must make spousal support payments. The judge also determines how much is paid, and for how long. In some instances, this can even mean lifetime alimony.
"It just doesn't make sense to bind people to an amount when they no longer have the ability to pay," Republican Assemblyman Sean Kean told The Inquirer.
"There's some merit to having a limit to how long someone should have to pay alimony," added New Jersey Assemblyman Troy Singleton, a Democrat. "I've heard of people paying alimony longer than the marriage."
New Jersey Alimony Reform, the state's most prominent alimony reform advocacy group, seeks time limits on alimony, and a framework for setting alimony that would provide more consistent results for similarly situated couples. According to the group, these reforms would not only result in more reasonable alimony obligations, but would encourage independence and earning from ex-spouses.
Yet, not everyone is in favor of laws that place limits on judicial discretion for alimony awards. After all, some say a judge familiar with the individual details of a case is better situated than the legislature to gauge the fairness of an alimony award.
An experienced family law attorney can argue for a reasonable alimony award
Last June, the New Jersey Assembly unanimously passed a bill that would create a commission to study the state's alimony law; the commission would consist of a panel of 11, and would have a year to produce a report making recommendations to the legislature and the governor. While passed in the Assembly, the bill still awaits action in the Senate.
Whether New Jersey lawmakers will take action beyond discussing an alimony study remains to be seen. In the meantime, divorcing couples will have to continue to fully rely on the strength of their legal arguments to secure favorable alimony arrangements.
If you are facing divorce, get in touch with a New Jersey family law attorney. Your attorney can tell you more about potential alimony reform laws, and will advise you on the best legal strategy to achieve your spousal support goals.
Article provided by Law Offices of Gary J. Natale, P.C.
Visit us at www.natalelaw.com/---
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