Alimony has long been a point of contention between many separated spouses. When divorcing couples in Monmouth County, New Jersey, divide property and assets, typically neither party believes that he or she got the better deal, and alimony is no exception. Now, however, reform that limits alimony awards may be on the horizon. In the meantime, recent reports of a New Jersey man who has been sent to jail more than once for being unable to pay alimony show the importance of setting a reasonable amount during a divorce.
Critics believe that reasonable alimony is not always assigned under the current New Jersey law, which allows permanent alimony. According to Time magazine, in 2012, Massachusetts eliminated permanent alimony. Before the elimination, people who were married for only a brief time or people who were living with another person were receiving lifetime alimony. Now, other states are also considering whether alimony laws could be revised to be fairer.
The Huffington Post reports that women have been some of the more vocal advocates for changes in alimony laws. Now that women frequently out-earn their spouses, they may find themselves paying alimony to ex-husbands who are employed once the divorce is finalized; one woman in the Huffington Post article learned that her employed husband could claim half of her pension simply because his job did not come with one.
The new legislation seeks to completely eliminate permanent alimony in New Jersey. It would also cap potential awards and reduce the difficulty of lowering or stopping alimony payments upon retirement. This could benefit both men and women who might otherwise carry a significant burden.
The American Bar Association journal describes the story of one New Jersey man who pays lifetime alimony. In the past, he worked as a Wall Street portfolio manager, but after being laid off, his income no longer covered the $78,000 plus child support that he was ordered to pay his ex-wife every year. After depleting his savings, he was no longer able to make payments. In the last two years, he has been jailed more than eight times.
People who criticize the current alimony laws say that this case illustrates several shortcomings, as described in the ABA article:
If you are preparing to divorce in New Jersey, it is essential to speak with an attorney about protecting your assets as well as your rights. An experienced attorney can help you understand your legal obligations and win the best possible outcome.