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Category Archives: Alimony
Joseph Noto, a Bergen County divorce lawyer, said that Governor Christie signed the Alimony bill, which law went into effective immediately. In essence it eliminated permant alimony and created duration alimony periods up to the length of the marriage. It also addresses, among other things, the meaning of a cohabitation and how do you do make a post judment motion for a change in circumsance in order to suspend or terminate alimony. Joseph Noto said to please keep your Case Information Statement when you got a divorce since it is needed in a Post Judgment divorce motion. Joseph Noto felt this was long overdue.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee met and voted unanimously this week to release AJR-32, which creates an alimony law study commission.
The following groups testified in support of the resolution:
the NJS Bar Association and:
- Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC)
- NJ Coalition for Battered Women
- Hispanic Bar Association
- NJ Association for Justice
- National Organization for Women (NOW)
- Essex, Morris, Somerset, Bergen, Camden and Burlington County Bar Association were also on record in support of the resolution
The NJ Alimony Law Reform Coalition opposed the resolution.
Several suggestions were made for amendments that the committee said it would consider:
- the public appointees to the commission should be certified matrimonial attorneys
- the appointment of members to the commission should not be the Governor’s exclusive choice. The Governor as well as legislative leadership should appoint commission members.
- the commission should include someone from the Alimony Reform Coalition
The resolution now moves to the Assembly for approval.
Joseph Noto, a Bergen County divorce lawyer, fully supports such a commission. He said this is long over due.
Joseph Noto, a Bergen County Divorce Lawyer, wants to give his blog viewers and update on the NJ Alimony Reform Bill. In the New Jersey Law Journal an article was written on the Alimony Reform bill which may be of great interest to them. It states: “N.J. Alimony Reform Measure Is Panned by Family Lawyers” written by Mary Pat Gallagher
New Jersey Law Journal
Lawyers came out in force at a legislative hearing Monday to oppose a bill that would abolish permanent alimony and make other drastic changes to New Jersey law on spousal support.
The measure, A-3909, would set guidelines providing that alimony should generally not exceed the “need” of the recipient or 30 percent to 35 percent of the difference in the parties’ income. Judges could attribute income to a party deemed to be voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, and they could “deviate” from the limit because of advanced age, chronic illness, tax considerations and other “relevant and material” factors set forth in written findings.
It would also make it easier to terminate or modify awards. Judges could reduce or stop alimony based on three months’ cohabitation, rehabilitative alimony would be limited to five years and alimony would end when the person paying it reaches the eligibility age for full Social Security benefits, which is 67 for those born after 1959, and no more than two years sooner for everyone else.
Existing alimony awards could be modified retroactively so long as a motion is filed within two years of the law’s effective date and the parties had not agreed that the alimony should be unmodifiable.
Lawyers and bar association representatives who appeared before the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday almost uniformly opposed A-3909 and urged support for an alternative that would replace references to “permanent alimony” with the phrase “alimony of indefinite term.”
That measure, A-4525, provides that modifying or extinguishing an alimony obligation based on actual or prospective retirement would require a showing that the retirement was reasonable and being done in good faith based on factors like the parties’ age and health, their retirement expectations during the marriage and the generally accepted age of retirement in the paying party’s field of employment.
People who lose their jobs would be allowed to seek modification on that ground after 90 days out of work. Any relief ordered could be made retroactive to the loss of the job or income drop.
Cohabitation, even if not full time, could provide a justification for terminating or suspending alimony but there is no specified time frame and how long the couple have been living together would be a factor.
A-4525 is the joint work product of the Matrimonial Lawyers Alliance of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Family Law Section and the New Jersey chapter of the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers. Several county bar associations, including Essex, Bergen and Morris, have passed resolutions in support.
Assemblyman Charles Mainor, D-Hudson, the sponsor of A-3909, which has bipartisan support, testified that it was based on a law enacted in Massachusetts in 2011 and reflects a trend toward similar reforms elsewhere, including Connecticut and Colorado. Mainor also said it is consistent with the current reality in which both spouses are likely to be working and equal job opportunities exist for women and men.
The existing law is ripe for abuse and manipulation, Mainor said, adding that he had been told by matrimonial attorneys that the amount of alimony depended on the quality of the lawyer.
Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, D-Passaic, sponsor of A-4525, acknowledged the need to alter the law and said his bill is an attempt to do so responsibly by respecting the ability of judges to take into account the nature of the case and the parties’ circumstances.
He echoed many of the lawyers who expressed concern that A-3909’s guidelines would interfere with judicial discretion, stating “judges must not be handcuffed.”
The bill bases duration of alimony on how long the marriage or civil union lasted. At the low end, five years or less, it provides for support for a period of no longer than half the time the marriage lasted, rising to 80 percent for marriages of 15 to 20 years. For marriages or civil unions lengthier than that, judges would have discretion to award alimony for an indefinite period.
Jeralyn Lawrence, of Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus in Somerville and chairwoman-elect of the State Bar’s Family Law Section, said A-3909’s “cookie cutter” formula has no place in Family Court, “a place of fairness and equity,” where “circumstances and facts matter.” For instance, A-3909 would treat two marriages of the same length identically even if in one but not the other, twins were born or one spouse sacrifices a career for family reasons. “Commitment matters,” she added.
Lawrence said she and her colleagues represent both those who pay and those who receive alimony and thus have “no ax to grind.” She took issue with Mainor’s assertion of gender equality in the workplace, citing statistics on women’s lower earnings.
Family Law Section chairman Brian Schwartz of Summit told the committee that A-3909 does not address postjudgment litigation over alimony and expressed doubt that women no longer face job bias.
In a subsequent interview, he countered suggestions that lawyers oppose A-3909 out of self-interest, saying its retroactivity would generate lots of work as people sought modifications.
Schwartz and John Trombadore of Somerville, who also testified, said the retroactive aspect is unconstitutional under the ex post facto and contract clauses. A similar bill passed in Florida this year was vetoed on that ground.
Somerset County Bar President Amy Wechsler, of Shimalla Wechsler Lepp & D’Onofrio in Warren, testified that even though A-3909 says judges can deviate on the amount, they are not likely to do so based on how they have adhered to child support guidelines. “Once you have set up guidelines, that’s what people follow,” she said.
David Perry Davis, a Pennington solo and family law practitioner who helped draft A-3909, called it “nonsense” to suggest the bill takes a one-size fits all approach, given the multiple grounds for deviating from the standard award. He suggested that a concern for billable hours underlies the opposition from the bar, contrasting its stance with the strong public support for getting rid of permanent alimony found in a recent Eagleton Institute poll.
In an interview, he said that child support guidelines have worked well and the “bar association won’t admit that the system is broken,” adding there are lawyers who agree with him but don’t want to stand up to the group.
Another lawyer who spoke in support of A-3909 was Karl Piirimae, who does real estate development law at Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf in New Brunswick. He became involved in the effort based on his own divorce experience, saying it took seven years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to end his eight-year marriage.
Citing statistics that judges decide alimony in fewer than 1 percent of cases, he questioned why guidelines should not be available to help those in the other 99 percent agree on a sum.
Piirimae said a revised and soon-to-be-filed version of A-3909 incorporates parts of A-4525; eliminates maintaining the marital standard of living as a factor in alimony; and exempts incomes of $370,000 and above from the guidelines, conceding they don’t work well when applied to “ultra-high-wage earners.”
Several who spoke, including Christine Bator of the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association and Francisco Rodriguez, president of the New Jersey Association for Justice, supported forming a commission to study the issue first.
Such a commission would have been created by AJR-32/36, which passed the Assembly in June 2012 but stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee. ? Bergen County divorce lawyer, Joseph Noto, said he will keep his viewers updated on this Alimony Reform Bill.
Joseph C. Noto, a Bergen County divorce lawyer, wants to let you know that if you are going through a divorce and alimony is an issue, that duration of the alimony will arise. When is it a permanent alimony case? … Continue reading
Joseph C. Noto, a Bergen county Divorce Lawyer, wants the payor of alimony to know of the recent case regarding a change in circumstance as it relates to cohabiation and alimony. A Divorcee, whose Live-in Boy friend perked up lifestyle, loses alimony. A divorcee’s plush lifestyle provided by her paramour can be considered when her ex seeks alimony reduction, a state appeals court held on Tuesday in a precedential ruling. The Appellate Division, in Reese v. Weis, A-5557-10, turned aside arguments that the gifts and luxuries lavished by the woman’s live-in lover were outside the equation. “We reject this view and hold that the provision of emoluments, which enhance a dependent spouse’s lifestyle, also equate to a tangible economic benefit from the new living arrangement,” the panel held. At issue in this matter is whether defendant received a substantial economic benefit as a result of her cohabitation, such that alimony should be terminated. They concluded that the inquiry regarding whether an economic benefit arises in the context of cohabitation must consider not only the actual financial assistance resulting from the new relationship, but also may weigh other enhancements to the dependent spouse’s standard of living that directly result from cohabitation. The court also finds that a trial judge’s exercise of discretion when determining whether to modify or terminate alimony may properly evaluate the duration of the new relationship and assess its similarities to the fidelity associated with marriage. Bergen county divorce attorney, Joseph Noto, says that payors should see a divorce attorney if they are in a similar circumstance and seek a temination of alimony if that is the case.