I knew I wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember. My father is a retired juvenile detective from New Jersey. I developed my love for the law through him. Law school proved challenging, requiring round-the-clock studying, but this diligence allowed me to graduate second in my class. Throughout law school and to this day, I have remained intrigued by how the law changes. The law can change in two ways. The first way a law changes is when a judge writes case decisions. The second way a law can change is through the legislature. The legislature creates statutes. If acceptable, and generally with much back and forth between the Senate and the assembly, the governor has the opportunity to then sign them into law. Regardless of how the law changes, my clients’ lives are impacted.
Practitioners of divorce and family law still grapple with the legislative changes to the alimony laws. The legislature saw fit to move a bill instituting changes to alimony, and in 2014, the governor signed the bill into law. Since that time, alimony payers and recipients have been analyzing the law and how it impacts their individual circumstances. The law addresses the length of alimony payments, as well as changes in circumstances to modify alimony. This important statute is interpreted and, unfortunately, misinterpreted on a daily basis.
Further legislative action was taken concerning child support. New Jersey receives federal funding based on how many open child support accounts the probation department maintains. To cut down on unnecessary open accounts, the legislature drafted, and the governor ultimately signed, a bill providing for a termination of a probation account that collects child support to happen by a set age. This termination, however, is not the same as emancipation; even in light of this new statute, if a child is not self-sufficient, child support may continue. In addition, if a child has special needs or is in college, child support continues.
In any divorce or family law matter, it is important to be aware of any changes to the law as a result of a judge’s decision. However, it is equally important to have an understanding of the legislative process and bills the governor signs into law. Both of these can impact your individual situation and circumstances.
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