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New bill may eliminate permanent alimony in New Jersey

Across the nation, permanent alimony laws have come under fire. One bill, in particular, seeks to change the way alimony is awarded in the state of New Jersey.

A bill has been introduced in the New Jersey State Assembly that would overhaul the state's current alimony laws. The new bill seeks to eliminate permanent alimony in the state. It would also clarify the standards for the issuance of other types of alimony, such as rehabilitative, limited duration and reimbursement alimony. Currently, judges in New Jersey are given wide discretion in determining how much alimony to award and for how long. However, the new bill would have the length of an alimony award be based on the length of the marriage. The new bill would also provide for the suspension of alimony in situations where the receiving spouse cohabitates with another individual. The bill has been referred to committee, and if enacted would become effective this October.

When a couple divorces, the issue of spousal support can become emotionally charged for both sides. Sometimes, the only way to settle these issues is judicially. However, it is sometimes possible for a couple to negotiate spousal support outside of court. When this happens, couples may seek alternatives to traditional monthly alimony payments. One alternative option to monthly alimony payments is a lump-sum alimony award. An advantage of this option is that it may cut down on issues pertaining to enforcement of an award, as the paying party is not legally obligated to make continuous monthly payments. However, a lump-sum alimony award will be taxed in full the year it is received.

Couples in New Jersey may see the way alimony is awarded in their state change, should this new bill take effect. But whether a couple seeks a traditional alimony award, or an alternative, such as a lump-sum payment, it is possible for spousal support decisions to be made in a way that is fair to all parties involved.

Source: Hunterdon County Democrat, "Alimony reform bill introduced in State Assembly," Lillian Shupe, March 15, 2013

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