Let’s Modernize NJ’s Divorce & Alimony Laws

Society has made a great deal of progress in terms of equality over the last five decades, resulting in positive changes for families and individuals. Women today make up nearly half the workforce, and it has been more than 50 years since Congress passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Finally, same sex marriage is legal in New Jersey and across the land.

And yet our divorce and alimony laws remain locked in a time-warp that assumes a paternalistic society in which marriages last forever, and in which couples cannot be expected to live fully independent lives post-divorce.

As we approach the third decade of the 21st Century, an appropriate question is this: What is the purpose of alimony? Even after a much-needed reform law was enacted in 2014, the laws of New Jersey continue to define the purpose of alimony as a means to enabling both parties to “maintain the marital lifestyle” for many years following a divorce. Notwithstanding the reality that this is not possible when economic conditions change and when one household must now live as two, the 2014 law did nothing to tackle the fundamental question of alimony’s purpose, which guides the size of alimony awards, and sets the conditions for both parties’ future independence and fulfillment.

Progress New Jersey

New Jersey’s legal standards for divorce and alimony, dating back five decades, no longer fit today’s society.  Our laws and judicial precedents do not reflect modern day families nor modern day career paths. They remain oriented towards households of the past where one spouse was a bread winner and the other a homemaker.  They fail to acknowledge that careers are more fluid with earnings rising and falling throughout changing professions which often include periods out of the workforce for both spouses. Life expectancy has increased, which has resulted in people switching career paths altogether, either by choice or necessity.

Yet New Jersey divorce laws are based on an era when people had fewer choices and careers followed predictable paths with steady incomes.  Progress NJ is a 501(c) (4) organization dedicated to giving individuals in the New Jersey family law system a voice in Trenton.  We ask you to join us in making steady progress to update our divorce laws so that families in crisis can make emotionally healthy transitions without ruinous consequences that rely on outdated legal standards that do not make sense in modern day society.