Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New Jersey Alimony Reform Kicks Off First Nationwide Conference

 RAHWAY, N.J., June 13, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- New Jersey's harsh, antiquated alimony laws were the inspiration for the first nationwide alimony reform conference last Saturday, June 9, sponsored by NJ Alimony Reform (, on the campus of Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

Assemblyman Sean Kean (Republican/District -30), sponsor of two forward-thinking alimony reform bills, addressed the packed auditorium at "Alimony Reform: Fair Laws for the 21st Century." Others speakers included advocates from Massachusetts, Florida, and Connecticut. Most of the attendees were from New Jersey. Others traveled from Florida, Oregon, Ohio and Rhode Island.

"We are thrilled with the enthusiasm and dedication of everyone who attended," declared Tom Leustek, President of NJ Alimony Reform, a statewide, grassroots organization. Leustek, a professor at Rutgers, founded NJAR in 2011, following the success of Mass Alimony Reform

( in driving the legislature to overhaul that state's 40-year-old alimony statute. Mr. Leustek became engaged after being ordered to pay lifetime alimony to an ex-wife with a PhD. in psychology and a private practice.

Assemblyman Kean said he was determined to bring fairness to New Jersey's alimony laws, which often order permanent lifetime alimony, even to educated, working spouses if they are the lower-earners. Current law makes it almost impossible to get a reduction if payers lose their jobs. Nor does it guarantee payers the right to retire and see payments end or decrease significantly. Asm. Kean supports a bill to establish a Blue Ribbon Commission to study alimony issues.

"While the NJ Bar supports the Blue Ribbon Commission, the Bar opposes limiting judicial discretion, which is at the heart of reform," said Mr. Leustek. "But many individual lawyers disagree, because they know how cruelly unfair the laws are. Debtors' prison was outlawed in the 19th century, but alimony payers who lose their jobs in this economy, and are denied reductions, end up in jail."

Keynote speaker Steve Hitner, President of Mass Alimony Reform, told the story of his group's journey from the margins of the legislative process to the center, when Hitner was appointed to the task force charged with rewriting the state's antiquated laws. The new law, passed unanimously, took effect March 1, 2012. It ends routine awards of lifetime alimony and provides guidelines on amounts and duration of alimony.

Alan Frisher, Co-Director of Florida Alimony Reform, described his group's reform efforts and ongoing opposition from the Florida Bar Association. Author and advocate, Elizabeth Benedict, credited with launching the reform movement with a Boston Globe op-ed, described similar efforts by Connecticut Alimony Reform and opposition from attorneys. David Perry Davis, a NJ family lawyer, stressed that alimony decisions, which vary widely from one judge to another, would become consistent and predictable with guidelines.

NJ Alimony Reform ( is committed to updating New Jersey's laws and attitudes. Current practices include lifetime alimony in marriages over 10 years, judges' refusals to lower alimony with significant income loss, and incarceration when payers' incomes are no longer sufficient to pay alimony.\

The New Jersey Alimony Reform logo is available at

CONTACT: Tom Leustek



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