Bill Would Eliminate Permanent Alimony in New Jersey


By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
NJ Today

Divorce brings up many thorny issues — who should pay, for how long and how much? And what happens if your ex is co-habitating with another person? Should the payer still have to pay alimony? Lawmakers will be facing these and other questions when they consider a bill that aims to reform New Jersey’s alimony laws. The bill calls for eliminating permanent alimony. And it establishes guidelines for the amount and duration of alimony awards.

Sheila Taylor, who leads the group New Jersey Women for Alimony Reform, believes these changes are long overdue. “Alimony shouldn’t be a lifelong sentence,” said Taylor.

Taylor says she is lifetime alimony payer. She believes there’s a misconception that spousal support or alimony is usually awarded to women. But she knows of many women and men who have similar horror stories. “I know one person who was married for 11 years. He’s now been paying for 44 years and he’s in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s,” said Taylor.

But former Judge David Issenman, who estimates he has presided over 21,000 divorces, has concerns about the bill because he believes eliminating permanent alimony could limit a judge’s discretion. And he points out that every case is different.

“Are there egregious situations? I am sure. But for every egregious situation reformers will tell you … I could tell you about a different one. And I wouldn’t base a complete change on jurisprudence on anecdotal stories,” said Issenman.

The bill has been introduced in the Assembly. It’s modeled after a similar law in Massachusetts.

Related: NJ Lawmakers Consider Alimony Reform

  • Ruby2008

    I think people need to re-read bill A-3909. The anecdotal stories happen to be people’s real living hell. Limiting alimony is the change. Not a lifetime entitlement. This is fair. A courtroom judge telling someone he can’t retire because an ex spouse has been dependent on the income received (again something enabled by the laws) and can’t live on anything less is not fair. The payer is living on less…..

    • Joseph J McArdle

      Thank you for this helpful comment! I am a 67 year old professor who cannot retire and maintain an alimony payment of $42,000 per year and a life insurance policy with my x wife as beneficiary. In my desperation to leave a toxic relationship I trusted my lawyer to protect my interests while being fair to this woman. She seems to have lost a large portion of the $450,000 or so portion of my retirment which she received in 2001. So, retirement is not possible fo me. Fortunately, I did not bring children into this unjust world!

      • Kenneth Storch

        I am a 58 year old physician with 4 children (2 from ex-wife and 2 from a new marriage) paying $60,000 per year to my Graduate degree Nurse ex-wife who travels and doesn’t work much while I am leading a very suboptimal life and my new family is deprived of my time and energy that they deserve.

        Upon settlement of the protracted exorbitant divorce negotiations, my own attorney advised my to “look for a rich woman to marry”. I failed to follow his advice and my wife and children (including the 2 from the first marriage) have been profoundly compromised by the settlement. I had to keep paying the attorneys on BOTH sides of my divorce or cave to the interests (attorney-encouraged greed) of my ex-wife. The attorneys on both sides fueled controversy between us and I have been living with this nightmare for 11 years now.

  • Lisa Brown

    Permanent alimony HURTS women as much as men !! Why are you only financially responsible for a child up until a certain age–even a disabled child–but you have to pay your ex spouse for the REST OF YOUR LIFE? Come on, this is sexist, and it is now hurting those it was intended to protect (women). And ask any one receiving it: “How would you like it if your new husband or wife was paying more than half of his/her income to his/her ex spouse for the rest of his/her life, so he/she can not EVER retire?”

  • Sherri Kurtz

    Actually if the judge and author of this story read the bill… They would know it REFORMS and DOES NOT ELIMINATE PERMANENT ALIMONY!
    Our horror stories are not antidotes…and yes it would limit judicial discretion, which is needed VERY VERY BADLY!

    • Reform-It


  • Reform-It

    . I am a LIFETIME alimony payer to the mother of my children. She is perfectly capable to work (and is for her live in boyfriend). They will not marry she would lose the LIFETIME alimony.
    I am one of the more than 20 yr. marriage and don’t I ever expect to have my Alimony modified. But I will be damned if I will not fight for my Daughter and my Son going forward.

    Both of my children (20 and 27) no longer communicate with my ex-wife…They see the injustice of Permanent Alimony and the fact that their mother has chosen to not make a life change that will allow it to end……I never have nor will I encourage them to not be in her life. But they have made the choice not to be in hers.
    Alimony in itself is anti-family. There is no good outcome from it. All it does is make the recipient dependent (like a drug) and not teach children to become self sufficient.

    • Carol

      I agree that this has to be changed!

  • Reform-It

    “But former Judge David Issenman, who estimates he has presided over 21,000 divorces”

    I wonder how many of those were given Permanent Alimony and ruined the family cause of it?

    After divorce a family can still be a family but when you add Permanent Alimony there is NEVER an end to the bad feelings.

    • Shari Friedman

      Absolutely correct. You can never undo the damage and bad feelings as there is NEVER any closure. We are in a situation now where the deal struck between my husband and his ex is that the alimony would end when he reached age 65 as long as it would not present an undue hardship to her. She is now earning in excess of $100,000 (4 times what she was earning at the time of the divorce) and the judge ruled against us. His kids – emancipated – are fine with it, of course, let mom get as much as she can – which has created a lot of bad feeling.

  • upsidedownjustice

    Judge David Issenman was the judge on my divorce.
    Although there 13 statutory factors that are supposed to guide the decision on alimony Judge Issenman cosidered only two, the length of the marriage and difference in income based on three years of tax returns prior to divorce. All the other factors were ignored. That is judicial discretion judge Issenman style and the best reason yet to pass A3909.

  • Reform-It

    There is an incentive from the Federal Government given back to the states based on the amount of Child Support (which we are not asking to change) and Alimony…..wonder where the money goes?

  • Kelly Rentschler

    Anecdotal stories!!!! Really!!! Where is the judicial discretion when a disabled person is ordered to pay more in alimony than his income!! My husband was in this situation and I have met many others in the same situation! Disabled people don’t get modification and are threatened with jail because they can’t pay! Alimony payers end up without representation because they simply can’t afford a lawyer and yet a judge will make that person pay the legal fees of the spouse who has been awarded all of the money!!!!! The lawyers and the courts are generating much income with the unfair alimony awards and they don’t want to see the cash cow go away!!

  • mike lorincz

    Even convicted criminals have an end to their sentence. End this ridiculas practice of lifetime alimony now.

  • Bea

    I would like to ask the judge how they can sleep at night when the amounts of alimony ordered will bankrupt the payer. These judges have too much power to do whatever they want in the family courts in NJ. They “impute” a certain salary to a man who has a small business and it doesn’t matter if he ever made that amount of money or not. Then when the man protests, the answer is “you will pay it or you’ll be in jail”. Or this is another common one, “get a second job”. The man says “I already work two jobs. “Then get a third one”. I also would like to know why an ex spouses well being is MORE important than the payers. The ex’s seem to be protected class while the payer is assumed to be lying and hiding assets. This is a big reason why reform is needed in NJ.

  • Shari Friedman

    I would like to ask the judge if when they retire, they will receive the same pension benefit at retirement as they did while they were actively employed as judges? I doubt it highly. Then why should an alimony recipient at the expense of the alimony payor receive no cutback in alimony at retirement age and why should it be expected that the alimony payer continue to pay at the same level? Assets at divorce were already split 50/50 in most cases – why should the payer now have to dig into his portion (if any is left) to pay the ex?

    The truth of this is that everyone but the divorce attorneys lose – the payer and the payee lose – the payer is forced into a lifetime of permanent servitude and the payee is encouraged not to move on with their lives, not to develop any independence, and to be deceitful to hide the personal relationship that they might have residing with them so not to lose their alimony paycheck. The divorce attorneys collect at time of divorce, and each time the payee attempts to reduce or terminate the unfair obligation imposed on him/her by NJ’s current status quo.

  • Tom Leustek

    If 98% of divorces are settled judicial discretion is used only 2% of the time. And you can bet those 2% are the most adversarial. End result, the terms of most divorces are set by the lawyers. In NJ this mechanism has createfd a harsh, extreme and out of control divorce system. The evidence is in the comparison of NJ with its neighbors PA and NY. Whereas lifetime alimony is common in NJ the neighboring states have limits of one third to one half the years of marriage. Surely, spouses are not more dependent in NJ. The difference lies in the judgesand lawyers in our state. Its time for legislators to bring fairness to our system.

    • Jon Worman

      Another great point on how behind the times NJ’s alimony laws are. Almost every state has long ago moved away from, or are in the process of moving away from the archaic alimony “life” sentences NJ has. So NJ either has this brilliant insight that it’s current alimony laws provide fair, unbiased and comprehensive coverage, or it is an island of antiquity, ignorant to modern day living, fairness and the promotion of family and individual independence following a failed marriage. Let logic and commonsense prevail.

  • Terry Power

    “former Judge David Issenman”

    Translation: “Current Divorce Attorney Who is Getting Rich on New Jersey’s Outdated and Unfair Alimony Laws”

    Heck, I’d rather be a divorce attorney than a Judge in New Jersey. They probably make about 10 times more money. Maybe 20x.

    The New Jersey bar just loves things exactly the way they are right now as they destroy families. “Judicial Discretion” means endless arguing that promotes endless legal fees.

    Massachusetts started the national alimony reform movement. Florida’s bill will become law within a few days. New Jersey needs to mirror the excellent changes that are happening in Florida with real reform. The current bill being proposed is woefully lacking, but a good start.

    Oh, and I just love when they use big words like “jurisprudence”. It makes it sound almost legitimate as they destroy families and ruin lives for their own financial gain.

  • Kathi Bender

    I think Mr Issenman needs to comprehend the meaning of bill A3909. Does it truly ban anyone from permanent alimony? I don’t understand why it is fair to grant one a lifetime of income when they have earning potential, education, and have contributed to the long term marriage equally. The judicial discretion everyone is fearing that will be taken away should have been used in the first place and we would not be asking for the overhaul of divorce laws.

  • George Olski

    Support Bill#3909 in NJ. It’s the FAIR thing to do.

  • Jon Worman

    Every divorce is different according to Judge Issenman, who estimated he has presided over 21,000 divorces and has concerns about the bill because he believes eliminating permanent alimony could limit a judge’s discretion. Every child support case is also different. Every welfare case, has it’s differences. Every un-employment scenario, again has its differences. What makes any divorce justifiable for a “lifetime” sentence of financial servitude for the basic reason a marriage failed? There is no justification and no where else is there such an unfair, unjustified and currently unpredictable outcome as New Jersey’s current alimony laws. No one is proposing judicial discretion be eliminated. Alimony reformers are proposing the addition of fair, logical guidelines just like the other programs mentioned. Is that not a needed and fair request given 21st century life and marriage in America?

  • Alimonypoor

    Alimony is not needed beyond 4 years. Get a job, get a life!

  • john Waldorf

    Another knee jerk reaction. Read the bill before you comment. Mr Issenman I am one of the 2% where judicial discretion was used. I pay lifetime alimony after an 11 Year marriage and the judge ordered me to pay $8000/month in alimony which just happens to be my gross income. My ex wife is an attorney and really played the system. After paying $300,000 In attorney fees the marriage was bankrupt. Frankly I believe we need To tighten judicial discretion further than bill 3909 does. I have no faith what so ever that discretion is/ will be used equitably By the Family Court judges in New Jersey.

  • DJB

    I am a second wife. I never asked for alimony when my first marriage ended even though my ex husband made 3 times my salary. My reasons were 1) pride, I grew up n the 60s and fought hard to be considered equal to men 3) self-respect, how would I feel about myself if I was depending on someone else for support 3) as an example to my son, I wanted him to understand that EVERYONE must grow up and be responsible for him/herself. Now I’m married to a man who was ordered to pay lifetime alimony to an ex wife who refused to work during their marriage and wanted to continue to be a lady of leisure. Ironic, I am now an alimony payer. My husband has 3 children and his child support obligations ended when the children were finished with college. He isn’t required to support his own offspring for the rest of their lives. This system needs to change.

  • Tom Scott

    New Jersey time for reform is NOW! Lifetime Alimony needs to be abolished.

  • Steven Kaufman

    I was married 17 years and have been paying alimony for almost 13. Our lifestyle included 2 bankruptcies and we always struggled financially but I’m told the idea is for the dependent spouse to be able to maintain their lifestyle. Since the divorce I have lost a job because my car was repoed and have been living in abject poverty because I continue to pay alimony to a woman who lives in a paid off home (her mom’s) and works full time for a major defense contractor. My life is not considered one bit and my ex can only laugh when she sees my bumper sticker. When permanent alimony is finally done I will feel as though I’ve won the lottery!

  • Ken Besold

    I live in New Jersey. I was married for almost 18 years. The marriage produced no children. My ex abused drugs and alcohol, doctor shopped for her drugs and cheated most of the marriage. In 2004 she moved into her grandmothers house and claimed she did to take care of her. She instead used most of her grandmothers money to support her habit. Even though I have no proof of this she was able to convince the court that she was and that I wasn’t supporting her. I was paying her 150.00 per week in cash, big mistake. She continued to abuse drugs and alcohol, cheated on me and lied to me about it even after catching her red handed. In the end I now pay her to live the same lifestyle. She claimed that she is depressed and has severe bi-polar issues. That I believe is caused by the abuse. I believe no one should have to pay Lifetime Alimony no matter what the issue. I say 5 years max then your on your own. I cannot even retire if I want to because of Lifetime Alimony. I’m a Veteran and have worked since I was 16, now am 55. I’m currently remarried to the best woman in the world, she supports me in my endeavor to eliminate this from the law books. I’m tired of hearing from judges and lawyers who say we are wining about the mistakes that we made and are just lazy and don’t want to pay. My ex is the one who is lazy, she’s learned how to lie, cheat and steal from the system. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

  • Alimonypoor

    I am an anecdotal story…ordered to pay more than I earn. This has resulted in numerous trips back to court in a futile attempt to get the alimony payments lowered. I have had to sell most of what I received in equitable distribution. This is known as Double Dipping and is allegedly prohibited. I am living proof that the system is broken. My next step is jail for not paying more than my income. I guess I will be living in a cardboard box.

  • his2cents

    I was married for nearly 23 years and did everything for our family including tried my damnest to keep my insane now ex from going thru a pain staking divorce because he was making the biggest mistake of his life while cheating with some crazy woman! (literally crazy…he should have done a back ground check before he hopped in bed with her). But he has what he thought was greener! :) Yes including alimony payments! Why??? Not because they are mandatory, not because the Judge sided with the female but because EACH AND EVERY DIVORCE IS DIFFERENT!!! each case needs to go to court just like criminal suits are heard in court and a decision is rendered! Aot of states do NOT allow cheating to be used in court. Maybe if it was ….the cheater should not be allowed to recieve alimony. And vice versa? In my case it also was not mentioned although it was the resaon for the break down of the marriage. Unfortuantely the disparity in income was of course greater in the fact that he worked as I stayed home after several years of working due to a disability. I did recieve a pension for my dsability but the original pay out that was given to me for my injury that paid off our home mortgage that was to last me a life time of pain and suffering was not given back to me during court procedings as they were used jointly during the marriage!!!! He lived a mortgage free lifestyle for quite some years!!!! Sooooooooooo…..PLEASEEEEEEEEEE before you wine and cry EACH AND EVERY CASE needs to be LOOKED AT by a JUDGE…..not by a blanketed LAW on the books. Besides everyone has the right to go back to court and have their case reviewed. PS I have no significant other hiding in my house (who would want to go thru that again)………..but it sure would be nice to have a someone with tools and a lawn equipment! Also, breath easy life is short we only live once and the ears go by so fast….be happy your not with the one that didnt treat you right any way! You shouldnt have to WORK at LOVE….it should come EASY!

  • L Klein

    I plead for people to reach out and petition to amend this archaeic law. Permanent alimony is permanent entitlement and only supports the irresponsibe! The system is broken. This is not the 1950’s when this law was created. It is now 2013 where two incomes are required. Women fought so hard for women’s right and yet they (because the law is pretty much discriminates men unfavorably and women favorably) expect to collect and live off of another. Wow, you want to be treated like equals in careers, in life? Why, the law is written that way. This law doesn’t treat men and women equally, in fact far from it. The attorneys and court system are all very much into just creating a business for themselves!!! They give you hope in the beginning that things will make sense. But they navigate you through the system because god forbid you had a successful marriage for 20 years and now unfortuantely you have grown apart? You may have raised a good family but bitterness sets in, the law tells both parties that alimony they are entitled to. What is amazing is the attorneys still get paid but everyone’s lives are negatively affected for exponentially more years then people were married. Children are not factored in as they should be. Yes, child support may be considered as a “process” of making it look like the children are factored, but the beauty for the receiver is they do not have to prove how the child support is used. This entire process is anti-family and in fact scars a difficult situation even further except for the irresponsible one, they are rewarded! I honestly can’t believe the system and also see it set-up as criminals have more rights then people who are getting divorced in NJ. There are no guarantees in life. My employer does not promise me a job and a certain income for the rest of my life; so why does someone who was married and then the marriage disinigrates, get rewarded with permenant alimony.

    I got married to someone who I LOVED but didn’t know about the system too much initially; I was a stepmom for 9 years, had no rights with the kids and yet financially could and was responsible for the kids. The beauty was if the Ex had a situation, I could be factored in with my income when my husband loses his job. His second family is never going to be priority and even sadder is the alimony is top priority for NJ court system. I don’t encourage anyone to get married in NJ because as Tina Turner sang “what’s love got to do with it”??? Well, nothing… it is just a permanent Big welfare check that rewards entitlement and punishes the responsible party. God forbid you stayed with your spouse to keep the family unit together as you believed this principal was a good thing, you had the one time well-respected value system where you stick through things through thick and thin? In NJ it does not pay. The law is so anti-family and the permanency of scarring from it runs deep and for a very long it. I now believe at least it is best to get divorced when you have trouble and not stay together for the family because at least child support may be only thing that may be positive. Unfortunately when you may have had a good marriage for say 10 years or maybe be blessed for 20, there is an entirely extra bonus system called permanent alimony which gives so many people their lottery tickets in life for the receiver! So the Ex can receive child support and alimony and, well, in the end they now have one absent parent (usually the father) because they are working two jobs to pay for the entitled spouse. The system does not promote responsibility, just enforces a guaranteed entitlement. We are wondering why our kids struggle and do not understand responsiblity? The old value systems of hard work pays are out the window. Well, actually the hard worker does pay, and pays dearly! It is just not right and needs to be changed.

    To tell you about how it has effected me would be a long long story. However, in the end, the financial stress of how my husband I loved and adored effected me. It took me my entire 9 years of marriage to help him get out of the debt from his first divorce. The scars it left on him were deep and I didn’t even realize how deep in him. Was he aware of it? No. But when we sadly went through our divorce, he made sure that every good deed I did was going to be punished as he wasn’t going to get creamed again through a divorce. So unfortunately the scars it left on me are significant as what was done to him through his divorce the first time around, he made sure he was going to do me in his second. I will never look to marry a divorced NJ man, especially because of this Permanent Entitlement Program that they are strapped with. Cuts out many but I don’t want the financial stress. Financial stress causes a lot of divorces! What does NJ do, allow and in fact write into law to allow that financial stress to be permanent even though their marriage is no longer valid. Welfare doesn’t pay, but responsible people do! The sad part is, receivers of the alimony (and you know who you are) who think you should be taken care of, GET OUT of the 1950’s! Work like the rest of us have to, be responsible, do the right thing, take responsibility of yourself, your children, improve yourself, improve your life, be independent and not dependent, and be a role model to yourself and most importantly your kids! If the marriage doesn’t make it, okay, accept it, but allow the families to parent the children going forward at least effectively with less hatred and distate in their mouth because of the broken family unit. The fact that the law eventually just says “well, (_____) is entitled,” unfortuantely (and most of the time it is the women) the receivers take advantage of the system. It does not allow the family who had to break unfortunately to be more effective moving forward. It is sad I no longer get shocked when you hear someone who went through the process (unless their spouse marries or you can prove they are cohabiting and fight it in court) when they say “I wish they would die”, or “yes, I think jumping off the bridge is the best answer”.

    NJ divorce law and this permanent alimony is not right and needs to be reformed! It should not be a lifetime sentence when they are not criminals, just the family unit didn’t make it. If NJ is going to be in your life that effects you so negatively, NJ should be all involved and educate the people BEFORE they are married when the couple is engaged to teach them about the family law, encourage pre-nup agreements; that way they prevent the family from being less scarred through the process with a little more hope for a more favorable ending. I don’t believe people get married with the thought that they will get divorced, but when they do, it is scary how the NJ court system is in your life should your marriage not work out and dictates your future .

    I do believe the Alimony Law and the entitlement system is so wrong and MAJOR REFORM has to occur. PLEASE PLEASE HELP. Cases are not looked at individually, it is blanketed; and the fear the attorneys put you through if you are the payor could be “you could pay so much more” and then the receiver of the alimony is told “YOU ARE ENTITLED”. So then the attorneys get rich. They may fear you signficantly right before the MESP and say “you should accept the deal because the judge could make it even more unrealistic. In the end, it is russian roulette where the NJ court system encourages strangers make recommendations on your life at an already trying time and make decisions that effect you for many years ahead.

    Finally, you hear the code words now called “collaboration”. It may work in 10 years from now, but because the alimony laws are so archaeic, collaboration will not be popular for a while! Entitlement is promoted and in the end, the attorneys need to make their money. They are guaranteed to get paid through this whole process if you want to get divorced, remember that!

    As Forest Gump says, “That is all I have to say about that!”

    • Robin Hair

      I plead as well. My now deceased husband’s NJ alimony termination litigation, forced to litigate although he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, was so brutal, cruel, and inhumane, that it should have been listed as a “CAUSE OF DEATH” on his death certificate.

      • http://www.crainassociatesresearchllc.com Victor Crain

        Robin, have you considered a wrongful death lawsuit? I don’t know if there is precedent for this, but naming key judges and NJ Assembly members might be a way to get their attention to what they are doing and failing to do.

  • his2cents

    And after a marriage that I took my vows in front of god and friends and family in a church and signed a CONTRACT that said for BETTER for WORSE in SICKNESS & HEALTH for RICHER & POORER till DEATH DUE YOU PART!!!!!!!!! DAMN IT…..that was a CONTRACT!!!! How MANY CONTRACTS DO YOU LEGALLY GET TO RENIG ON WITH OUT SOME SORT OF OBLIGATION???? I wonder how many people here are the complainers of alimony because they are he ones paying it????? What if you were the reciever????? I be damned if the reason the marriages didnt fail is because the other spouse didnt have a siginificant other to run to on the side! After all a monkey doesnt go from one tree branch to the next with out having a branch to hold on to! So technically if spouses would put that extra energy that they have …. in at home….they might not be paying to support two families! And another thing ….those poor 2nd familes that got formed after or due to the divorce shouldnt wine!!!! They knew what they were doing and dealing with when they were playing with the married person in the first place! Remember….the first spouse comes first because we were on first base first. Besides you used up enough of our combined income the whole time you two were having your trist….vacation,hotels,seperate cell phones, perfume, dinners, flowers, you name it. And now its not so green on the other side of the fence because it was fun while it was hot. Money is the issue now. Money is a issue in the first marriage also. The first marriage is where you usually work together to establish a great lifestyle together. And than it gets torn down! Maybe some our bitter about the law that makes them pay….but they should be more bitter about what got them in that spot in the first place! Alimony is NOT what makes a bitter relationship amongst the original family….the original family is bitter about what took place in the events that got them their! Those that are bitter are the ones that are in it! Note: There are some that do not deserve to be paid alimony or have to pay alimony in my opinion and that should be determined in court…..I do feel if you were the reason for the break down of the marriage (aka/ relationship outside of marriage) that should be scrutinized.

  • Second Wife

    @ his2cents – Please don’t assume that the second wife automatically is the reason for the divorce. I met my husband 15 months after his wife asked him to leave. She was the one who was cheating. Their marriage lasted 5 years, ours has lasted 16 years!

  • his2cents

    @ SECOND WIFE…………I don’t ASSUME that the 2nd wife automatically is the reason for the divorce. Mine was….and so was a numerous amount of others that I DO know! Your stiuation may be different along with “some” others. (good for you). Any one that gets married to someone that has been married prior knows they have a chance of taking on a possibility of baggage if not checked into prior to a marriage commitment, tis could include a commitment to children or former spouse.Also if your husbands first marriage only lasted 5 years I would presume his alimony to her should be nill and if not in my opinion the cheating aspect needs to be a part of the case because I dont believe that if you cheat you should be accouted for! I know courts dont allow the matter in usually, but if you cheat on anything else it gets thrown out too!!!!!!

  • John Ellis

    I have been paying alimony for 27 years. I tried to stop it in 2006 but a poor attorney and a presumptive judge would not let me stop. My ex said in court and on her depositons that she had no skills and could not work. She was working then and for the next 20 years. She retired and receives a pension from that job. She has a home free and clear that is assessed over $500,000.00. She has $300,000.00 in bank accounts.
    I lost my home in a foreclosure in 2010. I went bankrupt that year also.
    She attached my Social security and pension and receives 2/3 of both. Her bank accounts rose by $10,000.00 per year in the last 6 years. I am paying $24,700.00 to her a year and she is not using it all.
    I am 81 years old. My wife and I have a small business together. We have used all our IRAs, Profit sharing plan money and our Insurance cash value to pay alimony.
    I cannot afford to retire. She retired 7 years ago.

  • his2cents

    @John Ellis….a poor attorney doesn’t help your CASE and a presumptive judge only has what he is given to work with…..was he informed of all the knowedge you left here? Regarding your social security…..your ex is allowed by law to recieve the higher of either yours or her amounts once you start receiving social security depending on how long you were previously married and it DOES NOT AFFECT YOUR PAYMENT if she opts to take it. Im curious how you know how much she has in her accounts????

  • Kenneth

    Judge Issenman presided in my case. He seemed like good man and I thought he meant well. I was naive to accept his recommendation and I agreed in to this permanent nightmare.

    I wish I could have appreciated the implications of the settlement before I acquiesced to the pressure of the Issneman and the attorneys.

    I am surprised how in a so-called “justice” system, with so much bluster, my ex-wife and her attorneys were able to impose their will and collaborate with Issenman in setting up a life-long imbalance with profound adverse effects on the others affected by the “agreement”: myself, my new wife, 2 children from my prior marriage, 2 children from my new marriage.

    I am thinking of going to court to file for “Change of Circumstances”? I again will have to subject my solo-medical practice to numerous missed days, MANY of which end with last-minute judicial cancellations. I would again be working with attorneys charging nosebleed fees. Thank you Judge Issenman. The only solution to this can be be legislative- there is no way out of this through the legal system now.

  • William Heino Sr.

    Much talked about alimony reform, such are the dreams of the disabled veteran. When is that going to happen? However, any proposed legislation is discriminatory which does not include alimony reform for disabled veterans. As made obvious, both in states where attempts where made, and where passage was successful. Proposed and passed into law without thought or consideration for the disabled veteran wanting, under similar circumstances. However, actions by state courts are not as thoughtless when it involves veteran’s disability compensation.
    “It is well established that disability benefits are a protected property interest and may not be discontinued without due process of law. See Atkins v. Parker, 472 U.S. 115, 128 (1985); Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 332 (1976)”
    38 USC 5301 Nonassignability and exempt status of benefits. “Payments of benefits due or to become due under any law administered by the Secretary shall not be assignable except to the extent specifically authorized by law,.. a beneficiary shall be exempt from taxation, shall be exempt from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary.
    The question being, how is it, that state court judges can arbitrarily and capriciously award as alimony, with the mere wave of a hand, waive away a portion of a veteran’s VA disability rated compensation? Moneys in the form of disability compensation, the disability rights of a veteran, whose disability rating that maybe determined and factored in as critical? Judgment as if all disabilities are exactly the same. A disabled veteran’s plead to the judge, “I have a severe serious back injury, I need all of my VA disability compensation.” The judge would reply, “Are you a doctor?”
    But yet, state court judges, are in reality playing doctor, without medical license or knowledge .. a practice forbidden, providing penalties by law, and border on medical negligence. All without any input, or approval from the Veterans Administration. Overstepping those whose authority it belongs, the dedicated VA medical professionals, in the practice of medicine, re-evaluation, and rehabilitation of the veteran. While at the same time violating federal law, 38 USC 5301, 42 USC 1408, and the 14th Amendment.
    Ninth Circuit Says Congress, Not Courts, Have Say Over VA Health Care.
    Continually, State court judges disregard the law, as reduction in disability compensation cannot be “reduced unless an improvement in the veteran’s disability is shown to have occurred.” USC 1155 Authority for schedule for rating disabilities.
    How are judges allowed the non-life threatening discretion to award as alimony disability compensation based on ‘statutory’ awards? Which are not predicated directly on the average reduction in earning capacity, but primarily upon consideration of noneconomic factors, quality of life, such as personal inconvenience, social inadaptability, or the profound nature of the disability. The purpose of the statutory award for loss or loss of use of a creative organ is to account for psychological factors.
    “Clear and substantial” major damage to federal interests occurs when state court judges make lasting decisions, that seriously impact disabled veterans’ rated compensation and complicate Veterans Administration goals, and responsibilities. Upsetting, and overruling VA medical compensation decisions, which involve many hours of work that VA medical professionals have invested in the medical care, control, follow-up, and rehabilitation of disabled veterans. All this happens with VA complicity, when a state court, arbitrarily is allowed to take away a veterans VA disability compensation in third party alimony awards in violation of….. 38 USC 5301. 42 USC § 407 – Assignment of benefits, carries similar language.
    Where is it written, the VA authority, when a state judge can overrule the VA, the VA medical doctors and other medical professionals’ that determine a veterans’ medical rating compensation? His future now without the compensation that was by law assured? Tax payer monies mandated by Congress purposely, as veterans service compensation for injuries received, life altering as they are, now being diverted purposely by state courts to healthy third parties in many cases, in a determined and engaging violation of the law. To allow what has been happening, arbitrary exercise of government power, was it the intent of Congress that state court judges substitute their judgment for the judgment of VA doctors and medical professionals? I don’t think so!
    Perhaps, state legislators will or have proposed alimony reform legislation such as Massachusetts, West Virginia, California, as well as other states, due to the changing realities of family life, either proposed or passed that ‘permanent current alimony’ obligations be eliminated in alimony reform legislation? Legislation having broad appeal, proposed, and as happened, passed into law without thought or consideration of the disabled veteran wanting, under similar circumstances.
    To this day, there is no eagerness of state legislators to extend this, or any proposal to eliminate veterans disability compensation awards from alimony, despite the law, or any reform measures. The laws protecting disability compensation are very clear. What is needed is reform in the court system, and legislative re-thinking, that for whatever reason, due process and property rights do not apply to disabled veterans? This is something disabled veterans’, despite all efforts at law, over many years have tried to accomplish. Passing alimony reform legislation without disabled veterans would be just another insult. Brushed aside for more important things.
    The law is clear as to a veteran’s rights and a state court judge’s improper judicial authority in denying protections that are guaranteed, if not for the unjust rulings and hostility, even jail time experienced by disabled veteran’s for wanting equal justice. Under the circumstances of law as described, it is now up to state courts, state court judges, to uphold their sworn obedience and respect for the law.
    Disabled veteran’s have had the exact same alimony issue as everybody else. However, correcting clearly improper and illegal court rulings imposed on disabled veteran‘s is the issue, as much as it is any reform proposal.
    It is up to State legislators to honor them, with court clarifying legislation supporting the property rights of the disabled veteran. Thereby, setting an example for the rest of the nation.
    Oh, my goodness! Disabled veterans asking, wanting alimony reform? Will this kill any chance of alimony reform in general?

  • Joseph

    NJ laws regarding alimony seem as draconian as the laws of Sodo and Gemmorah in the Bible. How was such a situation allowed to even come about? What a dark stain on our state!!

    • Carmen

      The same way the Nj property tax laws were allowed to come about. NY does it better. Just cross the bridge.

  • HOy

    I am paying lifetime alimony after being married for 14 years. My ex-wife forced a divorce upon me. Throughout the marriage I was conscientous enough to support her while she stayed to care for the kids. I gladly did it. I was a loyal family man. My ex just no longer felt like being married anymore. I addition to forcing me to live without my kids, forcing me to sell our home at a loss, I am now forced to pay her alimony for the rest of her life.

    The goal is to maintain the marital lifestyle. Why? Why must we maintain her marital lifestyle if she wants out of a marriage? As a grown woman there should be consequences to her actions. Not one where she gets to maintain her lifestyle, while out of love and the kindness of my heart, I supported her. Now because I supported her, I am forced to pay lifetime alimony..?? Without the ability to retire?

    She continues not to work and has no intentions of remarrying. It was not where I cheated or abused her. She was bored, and no longer felt in love with me. I was willing to make the marriage work, and was willing to try anything. In her mind, it was over. Lifetime alimony is just another incentive for her not to work on her marriage, and to pursue her divorce with vigor.

    • Carmen

      This is going to happen more and more with the increase in life expectancy and life span. The heart would want to try again for love but the current laws would prevent it. Your wife should have foregone lifetime alimony and self supported herself in her journey to find love again.

  • Donald

    I too am a mam divorced and paying life time alimony, why, because that’s how men are treated in NJ! I am 70 yrs of age and this is something akin to “Slavery”. Malcom “X” called NJ’s divorce laws, the next best thing to “slavery”. A former Supreme Court Justice, called NJ family court a “Kangaroo Court”.

    The question becomes……..WHY ARE YOU MEN IN NJ STILL VOTING THESE SAME PEOPLE IN OFFICE WHO DO THIS TO YOU? I left NJ and went to an area that was not as expensive to live, out of need.

    I’ll wager that every man who responded to this or feels the same way, has voted these same individuals back into office. That has done this to you in the first place. While they just sit there and idly doing nothing to get this done. Why? Simple. They owe their collective seats to NOW!, that’s why.

    Wise up, and let your representatives know that they can no longer count on your vote; that goes for you union members as well.

    Make this a political battle! Just as your ex’s did! Forget what party you belong to….let them know…NO MASS, in no uncertain terms…..!

  • james

    I James was marry 22 years and my wife left at no fault of my own she said she would only take so much money her attorney wants her take as much as she can she told me it with only be temporarily and her attorney wants permanent alimony i work my rear off for my family drive truck with no air for 22 years work sometimes 70 hours week now down to 54 and half and did that for my family my wife works 3 part time jobs her attorney tells her try to work less as possible so she get more out of me she just hire in school system make good money and she can;t think for her self her attorney thinks for her as you could see the way i talk i don’t have education my wife does every thing get over system and i do every thing i should by law sincerely James.

  • danwalsh

    But former Judge David Issenman, who estimates he has presided over 21,000 divorces, has concerns about the bill because he believes eliminating permanent alimony could limit a judge’s discretion. ( This is 1/2 the problem MORON…)

  • Robin Hair

    Permanent alimony is the equivalent of being convicted of a Capital Punishment crime but having your sentence commuted to life in emotional and mental prison. NJ alimony laws are cruel, inhumane, destroying lives. Please read my now deceased husband’s press release below, a MOST EGREGIOUS alimony horror story:

    James Hair Press Release 11 13 2013.docx
    Add to DriveEdit onlineDownload originalShare
    Terminal Brain Cancer Victim forced to pay alimony until his death.

    Meet James Hair. Terminally ill, diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme IV, an extremely aggressive brain tumor with a poor prognosis of one year. Four months after filing for alimony termination, MRI reveals brain tumor has returned and is now five times larger. He then has a second emergency brain surgery, is hospitalized and near death. The so-called “NJ Family Court” then garnishes more than half his Social Security Disability benefit and gives it to his ex-wife, a South Brunswick elementary school teacher whose salary is $80,000 a year, zero dependents, in alimony payments, till his death. In addition, Defendant’s, ex-wife, cross-motion stated the sole necessity for continued alimony payments was for the support of her two adult, 25- and 28-year-old, emancipated sons and two grandchildren, none of which are her dependents.

    Think Alimony is fair in New Jersey?

    Before he passed away, Mr. Hair was placed in the hands of the so-called “Family Court”. Even though terminally ill, a false “out-of registration” order was filed in New York City, Mr. Hair’s state of residence, for “child support arrears,” although both of his sons, then 25- and 28-years-old, were emancipated. His wife was forced to leave him at home alone and make at least 10 appearances in the NYC Family Court and NYC Support Collections Unit to prove he wasn’t in child support arrears, thus the order was vacated five months later.

    Through these orders, he faced threats of incarceration, bank account seizure, driver’s license suspension, passport revocation, a negative credit rating, “double-dipping,” if he failed to continue to meet his alimony payments. If this false NYC “out of state registration” weren’t vacated, his Social Security Disability wages would have been garnished in two states resulting in “double-dipping,” thus exceeding the amount of his benefit and leaving him without any Social Security income . Each month until his death, more than half of his Social Security disability payments were taken to pay alimony to his ex-wife, even though her income of $80,000 per year as a South Brunswick NJ school teacher was far greater than his.

    This is proof the alimony system is disgustingly broken and in dire need of overhaul.

    James’ case is just one example of the many people who suffer every day under

    the current NJ alimony laws.

    This is not an isolated case. Just check out the James Hair story in the

    words of his attorney. Most NJ alimony payers who pay PERMANENT ALIMONY – NO

    CHANCE of reducing payments or retiring. Here’s why we say this:

    Mr. Hair petitioned the family court to terminate or reduce his permanent alimony without a hearing because:

    __ He was terminally ill

    __ His income was significantly decreased

    __ He was forced to retire

    __ Former wife’s income was exponentially increased

    __ He was disabled permanently, involuntarily

    __ He was, in fact, dying of brain cancer

    __ He was too weak and sick to move his own case forward

    __ He had two separate brain cancer surgeries, (craniotomies) second brain surgery four months after filing for termination

    __ He suffered through both full Chemo and Radiation therapies, in addition to numerous hospitalizations

    __ He had an emanate terminal illness, Glioblastoma Multiforme IV

    __ He was on short term disability

    __ He was transitioned to long term disability (loss of 35% income)

    __ His Ex-wife was earning far more than him, salary doubled since the final judgment of divorce, is currently working on a Master’s degree which would further increase her salary, in addition to a pension and retirement that would pay her throughout her retirement years

    STILL, the Family Court refused to reduce or terminate his alimony, and his Social Security benefits were garnished by the court to pay her full alimony till his death. In fact, Mr. Hair’s Social Security benefits were still in garnishment status after his death

    NJ Alimony Myth: “Don’t worry, you can always go back and petition the court for a reduction of alimony…”

    Help us end the madness

    NJ Alimony Reality: If this case doesn’t warrant termination of support

    without a hearing – what does? Your chances of reducing your alimony because

    of a hardship? Slim to None.

    One year after filing for alimony termination due to all of the above, the Judge ordered Mediation instead of termination which was warranted in this case. Over $40,000 was paid to his lawyers to keep him out of jail, and upon his death, over $34,000 paid to his ex-wife as a settlement via forced Mediation

    On his deathbed, unable to sit up without assistance, tumor spread to spinal fluid, approximately three weeks before his death, his wife propped him up in bed and he signed the last check to the ex-wife to end this torment

    If you still think New Jersey Alimony laws are fair, we have a book for you,

    “Shattered Lives.” This book reprints the horrific letters of just a few

    alimony payers in New Jersey who are suffering every day under the harsh and

    unfair New Jersey alimony laws.

    New Jersey Alimony Reform is sponsoring reform laws to be considered in this

    session of the New Jersey State Legislation. You can help affect change in

    these laws by writing your legislators and telling him you think the New

    Jersey Alimony laws need to be changed.

    You have this one great chance of helping people – both men and women – who

    suffer under the current antiquated alimony law. One great chance right now

    – because the alimony law is being voted on THIS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER.

    Please – write your legislator now. Yes, do it now. Here is a link to

    your representative and a sample letter you can send. These letters work,

    but only if they get enough of them. Please help change the law into

    something fair for both divorcing parties. Thank you. Sign up for free

    as a supporting member of http://www.NJAlimonyreform.org and make your voice

    heard. There is strength in numbers. You can help us stop the madness.

  • Robin Hair

    Mike Schneider, consider a news segment on my husband’s MOST EGREGIOUS NJ alimony horror story:


  • Steve

    Alimony should be for a fixed period so that it is there to help an ex spouse learn to become independent. This is America…they can get an education and get one or even two jobs. There is no reason the payer should be penalized for the failures of the other to become self sufficient.

  • Steve

    A woman repsonsible for her actions. What a concept. I was married for 25 years when my wife decided to establish a special friendship with someone I knew. She left and because I make a substantial income I have to pay. She should learn how to be independent but without a college degree she cant earn much. These women should learn how to be self sufficient rather than be given the freedome by the courts to act anyway they wish while someone has to support them. These laws have to be changed.

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  • KeyLimePie

    Children need support; adults do not. It’s scary for anyone to marry in New Jersey with the incredibly antiquated laws. Follow the model of Texas where community property is split but alimony is rare and minimal, usually lasting only three years IF the couple was married for ten.