Image

NJ Alimony Reform Bill Signed by Gov. Christie

The changes incorporated in the NJ Alimony Reform Bill are now the law of New Jersey

I am a passionate observer of the fight for alimony reform in New Jersey. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and communicating with many members of NJ Alimony Reform and NJ Women for Alimony Reform. What an absolutely terrific group of people.

The enactment of the alimony reform bill marks a landmark event in the history of NJ family law.

Introducing the star of the show, The NJ Alimony Reform Bill

Here’s a link to the text of the new bill, “An Act concerning alimony and amending N.J.S.2A: 34-23.” 

Synopsis, “Establishes durational limits and enumerates certain factors concerning modification and termination of alimony; establishes ‘open durational’ alimony.”

One of my favorite websites to learn about the particulars of NJ legislation is LegiScan. Here’s a link to the bill on LegiScan.

It is interesting to note that final passage of the bill was by a vote of:

Yay: 30

Nay:   3

Not Voting:  7

Absent:  0

The three nay votes were cast by:

  • Senator Nia S. Gill, Esquire
  • Senator Joseph Vitale
  • Senator Loretta Weinberg

The Star Ledger publishes an editorial

NJ alimony reform bill signed by Christie is a mixed bag   

(published on September 15, 2014)

Here’s a quote:

For the most part, the alimony reform bill signed by Gov. Christie doesn’t make our system better. It encroaches on the discretion of judges in favor of a more formulaic approach.

But look at it this way: it could have been much worse. Disgruntled reformers — mostly men paying alimony and their later wives — were ardently pushing the narrative that our current system is utterly broken, sentencing them to lives of indentured servitude.

They would have us believe that the solution needs to be draconian, too. Rather than simply making it easier to adjust a payment when circumstances change, they set out to impose strict caps on the initial alimony award.

Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. This new law is a compromise. The best thing it does is correct the misnomer of “permanent alimony.” It changes that term — what critics dubbed ‘lifetime alimony’ — to better reflect what it actually is: An indefinite award that can be reduced or terminated when circumstances change.”

A thoughtful article by Tom Leustik, President of NJAR

Opinion: N.J. alimony reform bill is a first step, not an endpoint 

(published on August 23, 2014)

Here’s a quote:

Former Assemblywoman Joan Quigley’s guest opinion “Coming up with changes to New Jersey’s alimony reform was like going through a divorce” (Aug. 12, nj.com) portrays reformers as bitter, disgruntled and complaining that the bill does not lift our individual alimony burdens. The reality is that, as a grassroots organization, not an established trade association, we advocated for reforms to benefit the general public as well as our alimony-paying members. During the course of our nearly three years of public advocacy, we received a first-rate education about the legislative process and the art of the politically possible. Let it be clear that we fully endorse the bill awaiting the governor’s signature and urge him to sign without delay, but only as a first step toward modernizing New Jersey’s socially obsolete family laws.

The bill on the governor’s desk is far less than initially proposed in our bipartisan comprehensive reform legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Charles Mainor, Sean Kean and Troy Singleton. It lacks prohibitions for alimony payments to those who have committed acts of domestic violence. It lacks guidelines for an amount of alimony that is fair and reasonable consistent with the unwritten “rule of thumb” that is used by attorneys throughout the state. Despite these and other deficiencies, the leadership of NJ Alimony Reform/NJ Women for Alimony Reform believes that the bill is the foundation for greater reforms, which we are confident will occur as our movement continues to educate leaders in the Statehouse and the general public about the gross inequities of the current alimony system.”

“New Jersey Family Collaborative Law Act.”

Another extraordinary piece of legislation signed by Governor Christie. The NJ Law Journal writes:

A second bill, A1477, will allow couples to have a marriage dissolved without court intervention through a process similar to mediation, in which both sides would be required to provide “timely, full and candid disclosure” of relevant information, such as finances, without either side having to resort to discovery.

New Jersey joins eight other states—Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Washington and the District of Columbia —in allowing such a process.

The Family Collaborative Law Act is modeled on a proposal by the New Jersey Law Revision Commission and the national Uniform Law Commission.”

Read more: http://www.njlawjournal.com/id=1202669947987/Christie-Signs-Alimony-Reform-Other-Measures-Into-Law#ixzz3DUQGDw1Q
Here’s a link to the details of this bill on LegiScan.

 

Commentary

I am overwhelmed by the accomplishments of the men and women of NJAR and NJWAR. This is an example of a grass-roots campaign of concerned men and women that successfully effectuated political change. A wonderful template for working within the system to bring about much-needed reform of the New Jersey antiquated and draconian alimony laws.

I am put-off  by the Star Ledger’s attempt to trivialize the changes in the alimony laws that were passed by the NJ legislature.  These changes do make the system better and changes more than a “misnomer.”

Compromise is the hallmark of a political process that works. Ideological obstructionism is its enemy. I applaud all the stakeholders for recognizing that compromise was necessary to bring about reform.

I generally don’t like singling out one person among a battalion of conscientious reform minded people, but I’m going to anyway. I am inspired by the unending and unbending advocacy of Stuart Kurtz on behalf of alimony reform. An articulate and persuasive spokesperson and communicator. A champion among champions.

As Tom Leustik said, “…the bill is the foundation for greater reforms, which we are confident will occur as our movement continues to educate leaders in the Statehouse and the general public about the gross inequities of the current alimony system.”

Tags: ,

Subscribe by e-mail to Larry the NJ Lawyer's Cogitations Blog

Enter your e-mail address in the space below and click on "submit." Thank you!

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.