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Man serves endless loop of jail time because of lifetime alimony

A New Jersey man seems to be caught in an endless loop of jail time because he can no longer afford to pay the court-ordered lifetime alimony payments that were set when he had been making $1 million a year. The man, whose marriage ended after 17 years, has been jailed a minimum of eight times within the past two years because he missed paying alimony to his ex-wife.

New Jersey is one of three states where lifetime alimony still exists. The law states that if people default on their alimony payments, they can be jailed even though they may not have resources to pay the original court-ordered amount. That sum is based on what they were able to afford when their marriages ended. For example, this man now works for a fraction of the salary that he previously earned; yet, he still owes his ex the original court-ordered amount at the time of his divorce.

The lifetime alimony laws were popular at the time when many women were homemakers and their husbands were the primary income earners. However, many states have modified the legislation in order to accommodate current attitudes toward gender roles by abolishing permanent alimony and establishing various forms of temporary alimony.

Divorce laws in New Jersey are complicated, and those intending to go through the process might have questions regarding how to proceed. A skilled attorney might be able to help by explaining the law and offering options regarding issues such as child support, property division and alimony. That information might be helpful for people to make decisions with which they feel comfortable.

Source: Bloomberg, "Jail Becomes Home for Husband Stuck With Lifetime Alimony", Sophia Pearson, August 26, 2013

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