LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Asm. Kean: Alimony Laws Don’t Address Changed Circumstances

State lawmakers through both legislative houses approved changes to New Jersey’s alimony law, which now await Gov. Chris Christie’s approval. Assemblyman Sean Kean (R-30) told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that alimony laws have to be changed because they are not equipped to deal with problems in divorces.

“I have been involved in this particular issue for a number of years,” said Kean. “Constituents who came to my office asking for help, a legal system that really wasn’t equipped to deal with the problems that led against people going through divorces and the reason for that is just for a glaring example, there’s a couple of them but the first one is changed circumstances, when somebody for instance loses a job.”

Kean said that in the current alimony laws, when there are changed circumstances such as one losing a job, the alimony payments do not change. He also said that sometimes in court judges would not consider changed circumstances and that alimony payments would remain the same.

“There’s no mechanism under the law to adequately give them relief,” said Kean.

Since both houses in the state legislature have approved the bill, it’s currently sitting on the governor’s desk. Compared to previous legislation that Kean has sponsored, he said that the bill does address components such as retirement and changed circumstances.

Kean said that if the bill does pass, it can be a starting point to see how changes would play out.

According to Kean, judges have too much power in alimony cases with the current laws. Depending on the county and the judge a virtually opposite decision can be given in matrimonial court, said Kean. According to Kean, there will be mechanisms in the bill to deal with different sets of circumstances.

Whether Christie will sign the bill, Kean says that he has not had any conversations with the governor or his staff but believes that it would be the right bill for the governor to sign.

“I do know that out on the road he has made some general comment about his belief that we need to do alimony reform and I would guess that this would be the right bill for the governor to sign because it’s really not an extreme bill,” Kean said. “The state Bar Association came on board after several changes were made to the bill and they support the bill, so I think it’s a smart starting spot. I think the governor will sign the bill but once again the starting spot. Don’t forget that all those individuals with agreements in place when this bill is signed, much of the law will not impact them.”