NJ Alimony Reform is a group of women and men dedicated to changing New Jersey’s harsh and outdated alimony laws to be fair and reasonable.
Today’s NJ Alimony laws are oppressive. They are harsh enough to force the money-earner into bankruptcy, incarceration, to leave the country, or worse. All this the result of LIFETIME Alimony. Why should anyone be forced to pay 50 or more years of lifetime alimony after having been married for just 10 years?
NJ Alimony Reform is a 501(c)(4) not-for-profit organization that was formed to reform the outdated alimony laws in New Jersey.
In NJ, there are no clear rules for judges to follow, only vague guidelines. Instead of “Support” as a transition to normal life, alimony receiving spouses are “Awarded” -for getting divorced. The amount often encourages them never to work again, never to marry again, and never to be a productive part of society. And the alimony payers – they are left to carry the burden for the rest of their lives.
We don’t think that NJ should be promoting a culture that burdens one person with arduous payments for the rest of their life if their marriage doesn’t work out. We seek to change the law into an equitable and reasonable settlement, justified to both parties. Like the newly created Massachusetts Alimony reform bill signed into law in September of this year.
New Jersey alimony laws were mostly established in the 1940’s and 1950’s - when virtually all women were stay-at-home mothers and men were the family breadwinner. Few career opportunities existed for women. Alimony laws were necessary to ensure that divorced wives didn’t have to collect welfare.
Women are half of the work force. Educational and career opportunities abound. Encore careers are commonplace among mature and productive adults. Yet the antiquated alimony laws remain. Worse yet, all common sense has left the interpretation of even these laws, and the lawyers and judges have made them even more oppressive.
NJ eliminated gender bias in its divorce laws in the 1970‘s, and today a few men receive alimony. However, gender neutrality did not fix a basic unfairness of alimony law, which demands LIFETIME alimony be paid to a former spouse without any encouragement for them to become self-supporting. Spouses that pay alimony usually pay… until… their… death! There is no escape, and no retirement to pay a lesser amount. So, de facto, there is no retirement for the LIFETIME alimony payer. Work until you die to pay your able-bodied ex-spouse. Doesn’t seem fair, does it? No, we don’t think so either.
The outdated concept, on which alimony was originally based, that divorced women are incapable of self-sufficiency, is alive and well in NJ even though alimony is claimed to be gender-neutral. By leaving the choice to become self-supporting entirely to the alimony recipient the law ignores the truth that most people, when offered “free income for life” are not likely to make any effort to independence. Like winning the lottery! Unfortunately the flip-side of one spouse’s “Free Income for Life” is “Pay Until Death” to the other. A LIFETIME sentence. No time off. No reduction of payments when the payer tries to retire.
People who cannot afford LIFETIME alimony are forced to remain in dead marriages. Heartless opportunists have free reign to savage another person. Divorcing spouses become locked in a perpetual state of acrimony and litigation.
The children of the marriage are continually exposed to the hostility of “who gets what money.”
The costs to the alimony payer are especially harsh. NJ judges have shown themselves to be unwilling to reduce alimony after the loss of a job, sickness, or less pay in today’s unfortunate economy.
Judges force alimony payers to spend their lifetime of savings — paying an able-bodied ex-spouse and for expensive attorneys in a futile effort to save themselves.
Ex-spouse alimony payers are unable to form new relationships for fear of exposing the new partner to their horrendous legal entanglements. Ex-spouse alimony receivers are unwilling to risk the loss of their “Free Money for Life” by marrying.
In extreme but all too common cases, alimony payers who are unable to pay alimony after a job loss are criminalized by judges who order their imprisonment. YES… Imprisonment! For losing a job - imprisonment for marrying the wrong person and now not being able to pay the “Award”.
Reasonable people question whether it is appropriate for the State to mete-out such incredible suffering for having been party to a failed marriage. Given these realities most reasonable people wonder whether lifetime alimony law is somewhat like a lifetime prison sentence - or a modern day system of slavery. What made the process of selecting the wrong spouse such a heinous crime that one continues to pay for it until death. Almost all convicted bank robbers, and even some murderers get out of jail before their death.
Reasonable people wonder why the State of New Jersey is not promoting self-sufficiency for all of its able-bodied citizens, including divorced alimony recipients.
We at New Jersey Alimony Reform believe that now is the time to revise and update the outdated alimony laws in New Jersey to reflect current realities, to minimize litigation and conflict, reduce the cost of legal fees, and to promote independence and equity for the parties to divorce.