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New Jersey divorce: Alimony reform looming?

Alimony has been a hot button issue in the state of New Jersey for months now, especially with the possibility of alimony reform looming. A Feb. 8 blog posting didn't specifically address reform within the state, but instead focused on addressing alimony issues spouses across the country are currently experiencing. Couples who have gone through a divorce often find themselves struggling to keep up with alimony and child support payments, especially with the current state of the economy. One of the biggest issues with the state's alimony policy is that sometimes, even with a major life change, it is difficult for people to have their alimony payments lowered.

One New Jersey woman who previously earned six figures reportedly agreed to pay her ex-husband $15,000 per year in alimony after an exhaustive divorce. This was in addition to the amount of money she spent on legal and expert fees. She stated that she just wanted the nightmare to be over because the situation had placed her close to bankruptcy.

Unfortunately, she lost her job and searched for almost a year before she found another one. However, she was now only earning about half of her previous income. She has been unable to have her alimony reduced, even though her income has dropped dramatically, because a judge ruled she had not proved her financial circumstances were permanent instead of a temporary situation. This unfortunately is becoming common within the state and can result in residents facing dire financial circumstances and sometimes even criminal charges. The call for alimony reform comes on the heels of the state's poor job market.

Although there are numerous individuals upset with their alimony situations, the economy has worsened most people's situations. Advocates for alimony reform want to stop permanent alimony and seek a formula that would limit both the amount paid and the duration of the payments. Several other states have adopted alimony guidelines, and it is possible that New Jersey could soon follow. Divorce is rarely an easy situation, but when one person is required to pay alimony for the rest of an ex-spouse's life, it could very well result in hard feelings and financial difficulty. Reforming alimony within the state could curb the practice and allow spouses the opportunity to come to a settlement that is equitable for both parties, instead of advantageous to only one person.

Source: app.com, "Alimony troubles: Two sides escalate battle in NJ," Dustin Racioppi, Feb. 22, 2013

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