The president of New Jersey Alimony Reform, Tom Leustek, has issued a counterpoint to a newspaper column written by the president of the New Jersey State Bar Association. He contends that while the NJSBA's president gracefully supported a reassessment of New Jersey's current alimony laws, she made several misstatements as well.
Leustek writes that the NJSBA president described New Jersey Alimony Reform as a small group of disgruntled alimony payers. Leustek claims that his organization already boasts a large number of members and is growing. He adds that approximately 30 percent of the group's members do not, in fact, pay alimony, but are witnesses to the abuse of alimony payers after a divorce, including second partners, family and friends.
Leustek quotes Feeney as referring to New Jersey's alimony statute as "one of the most comprehensive" examples of such in the United States. He argues that New Jersey's alimony system is broken in reality, giving judges nearly unlimited power over the lives of alimony payers. Citing unclear criteria for determining alimony payments and short statutes, Leustek argues that judicial discretion has caused a number of inequities in New Jersey's family court system.
Leustek acknowledges that low employment and a weak economy have contributed to the problem of excessive alimony awards, but accuses judges of setting an unfair and needlessly harsh precedent over the course of many years. He writes that "if the law is unfair during bad economic times, it is equally unfair during good times." Specifically, Leustek points toward an alleged reluctance on the part of family courts across the state to modify alimony orders after the payer loses a job, is forced to file for bankruptcy or experiences a similarly life-changing event.
The NJAR president closes by stressing that New Jersey needs firmer guidelines in determining alimony, which would require the removal, or limiting, of the discretionary system currently employed. Arguing that the state's alimony laws are biased and outdated as is, he calls for the implementation of a more equitable alimony statute.
Source: Asbury Park Press, "Leustek: Give judges alimony guidelines, not carte blanche," Tom Leustek, March 16, 2012