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Guidelines regarding retirement at issue in alimony debate

Should New Jersey residents be required to pay alimony after they retire? Should there be more guidelines for judges in deciding if or when a modification of spousal support is in order? And what about situations involving recipients of alimony who benefit financially by living with but not marrying a boyfriend or girlfriend? Should judges have more established guidelines in these situations?

These are the matters addressed in two proposed pieces of legislation that would reform New Jersey alimony law. One bill comes from the two major reform groups, and the other bill comes from the New Jersey State Bar Association. Both factions are at odds over which bill is best.

The debate over alimony reform has been going on for some time, but New Jersey Women for Alimony Reform and New Jersey Alimony Reform -- the two major groups pushing for changes -- claim that the Bar Association has introduced its legislation only to slow down the reform process.

The reform groups and the Bar Association do agree, however, on two provisions that appear in both bills. One provision would provide judges with guidelines for reducing alimony payments if the paying spouse falls on financial hard times. The other provision would offer judges some guidance for when an ex-spouse is suspected of unduly receiving payments while living with a romantic partner.

What the two camps don't agree on is a provision offered by the Bar Association that would also give judges some guidance when a paying spouse retires. The reform groups would like to see alimony end at the paying spouse's retirement, but the Bar Association would like to set some more parameters before any retirement-related reduction occurs.

New Jersey residents may want to keep an eye on the two pieces of legislation to see if any change is passed during this legislative session.

Source: The Daily Journal, "Two plans for NJ alimony reform at odds," Susanne Cervenka, Dec. 11, 2013

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