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NJ Alimony Reform

On September 10, 2014, Governor Christie signed new laws into being.   Included and most interestingly was one for Family Law matters.   There is now a more reasonable alimony law in New Jersey.  There is a Do It Yourself Divorce (DIYD). In truth, the DIYD is nothing more than a joke perpetuated on to unsuspecting couples to extract additional money before the actual divorce begins.  While I support Gov. Christie and all the great work he has done, the legislature is still busy at work creating new laws in order to steal more money from the working people.  

Contact the Simon Law Group and speak with a NJ Family Law attorney 800-709-1131 for your free consultation.

Christie Signs Alimony Reform, Other Measures Into Law

, New Jersey Law Journal

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Sept. 10 signed a host of bills into law, including an alimony reform package and a measure that allows couples to dissolve their marriages through a mediation-like process.

Christie also signed bills that put limits on how notaries public may advertise their services and that increase the penalties for electronic financial crimes.

A845/971/1649 makes drastic changes to the way alimony is awarded in divorce cases, and is designed to give judges, lawyers and litigants a set of guidelines to follow when determining how much alimony should be awarded and for how long.

The changes are prospective and would not apply to divorce settlements or orders already in effect.

In any case in which a party asks for alimony, a judge will be required to issue a written ruling explaining his or her analysis of relevant factors in determining whether there should or should not be an award of alimony.

If the marriage or civil union lasts less than 20 years, alimony will not exceed the length of the relationship, but for exceptional circumstances.

In addition to the factors already in the statute, judges will have to consider the ages of the parties when they were married and when the relationship ended, the need for separate homes, the ability of both parties to maintain a standard of living, the dependency of one party on the other, whether one party has particular health problems and other relevant issues.

Judges will be allowed to suspend or terminate limited-duration alimony if the recipient establishes a cohabitation relationship. A judge can order alimony to be resumed if the cohabitation ends, but may not extend it beyond the original termination date.

In cases of cohabitation, judges must analyze, among other factors, the cohabitants' joint finances, recognition of the relationship in the couple's social and family circle, duration of the relationship and sharing of household chores. A judge will not be able to reject a claim of cohabitation solely on the grounds that the couple does not live together on a full-time basis.

Alimony payments may now be modified or terminated when they payer reaches full retirement age.

There are no changes to the rules governing reimbursement alimony.

The new rules give judges greater authority to modify alimony awards if the payer becomes unemployed involuntarily or sees a dramatic change in his or her financial circumstances. A payer who loses his or her job will be allowed to apply for a modification in payments after being unemployed for a minimum of 90 days.

"This represents a great compromise of some very divergent opinions," Amy Goldstein, a family law litigator at Capehart & Scatchard in Mount Laurel, N.J., who helped write the bill, said.

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.

During the collaborative process, communication between parties and their lawyers will remain confidential, as will communication between parties and certain other professionals, such as therapists and psychiatrists.

If the process proves to be unsuccessful, the collaborative lawyers will have to withdraw from the case and both parties would retain new counsel, which cannot be lawyers from the collaborative lawyers' firms.

The collaborative process must end if one party gives notice for any reason; either party files a document initiating a court proceeding without first obtaining the permission of the other party; either party is subject to or obtains a temporary or final restraining order under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act; either party files a motion for emergent relief; a party fails to provide information necessary to resolve the dispute; or if the collaborative lawyer withdraws from the proceedings.

In addition to the measures affecting family law, Christie signed another bill, A1423, prohibiting notaries public from falsely representing themselves as attorneys in advertisements.

A notary public will now have to say in his or her advertisement that he or she is "not an attorney licensed to practice law and may not give legal advice about immigration or any other legal matter or accept fees for legal advice."

The sponsors said the legislation is needed because in some other countries, particularly those in Central America and South America, notaries are often considered members of the legal profession and are allowed to validate real estate transactions and wills.

The new law also requires the state Treasury Department, which regulates notaries, to inform license applicants about the criminal penalties associated with the unauthorized practice of law.

Two other bills were promoted by the administration as part of a plan to create a more business-friendly environment for the state.

A1153 amends N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5, which currently only applies to bad paper checks. Bad electronic transfers will now be subject to criminal penalties ranging from disorderly persons offenses to second-degree crimes, depending on the size of the purported transfer.

A1162 will allow the receiver of a bad electronic transfer order to pursue a civil claim if the sender does not make good on the transfer within 35 days.

Christie signed all of the bills without comment.

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