Movement to change "antiquated" laws gaining steam
In this new century, the idea of alimony has gotten a face-lift thanks to the new economic woes men—and an increasing number of women—who are forced to make monthly payments face. Payees are now behind on payments more than ever thanks to lost jobs. But a groundswell in the New Jersey, led by the group NJ Alimony Reform, is causing elected officials to make changes in the Garden State in the form of reform bills.
This past winter, the NJAR scored a victory when the state's Senate and Assembly judiciary committees passed a bill that allowed courts to modify a payer's assessment when he is either unemployed or disabled for more than six months. They were very vocal in support of that bill, and it comes at a time when other states like Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida are making major overhauls in their alimony guidelines.
NJAR's next target is for the state to form a commission that will make more changes to what they call New Jersey's "antiquated" alimony laws. Members of the group argue that the new economy has put many their fellow alimony payees in jail, all because of a double-whammy: failing to marry the "right one" and losing their jobs. But not everyone is on board with creating sweeping changes.
"There is no guarantee the commission would be impartial," said Sally Goldfarb, a professor of family law at Rutgers Law School in Camden. "If the commission is stacked, it could lead to outcomes that would not be good for the people of this state."
Some people in the government don't agree. State Assemblyman Sean Kean of Monmouth thinks it's time to give some people a break. Kean co-sponsored the bill to help out those out of work for more than six months. "From the beginning, for me, it's a question of fairness," Kean said, in calling that bill "very benign" in codifying what judges should already be doing. "Sometimes guys end up in jail."