Yesterday, Governor Chris Christie signed the alimony reform bill (A -845) into law which amends the New Jersey alimony statute. The amendment to the alimony statute, N.J.S.A. 34-23, takes effect immediately. A few key changes are:
The biggest change is that the amendment now removes the term “permanent alimony” and replaces it with “open durational alimony.” Additionally, for any marriage less than 20 years, the duration of alimony shall not exceed the length of the marriage except in exception circumstances. However, this amendment does not apply to alimony that is already in effect.
The amendment also provides for a rebuttable presumption that alimony shall terminate when the payor reaches the federal retirement age. If a person wants to retire before then, they have the burden to establish that the retirement is reasonable and made in good faith.
Another change is that once a person has been unemployed or has an involuntary reduction of income for 90 days, they can file an application with the court to have their payments modified.
The amendment provides that cohabitation can suspend or terminate alimony. Under the amendment, cohabitation does not mean that they live together on a full-time basis. It specifically states “cohabitation involves a mutually supportive, intimate personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken duties and privileges that are commonly associated with marriage or civil union but does not necessarily maintain a single common household.”