found for the bill drafted and supported by the various
family bar groups. On Nov. 25, 2013, Assembly Bill 4525
was formally introduced and assigned to the Assembly
On Nov. 25, 2013, leaders from the state bar, from
the MLA, from NJAJ, from local bar associations, and
from individuals representing themselves or various
groups that opposed A-3909 (as just one example,
NJNOW), all appeared to speak against passage of
A-3909, and again encourage either the creation of the
commission or, in the alternative, to support A-4525.
But they were far outnumbered by well over 200 people
in support of A-3909; for hours, these supporters told
‘horror story’ after ‘horror story.’ In fact, these stories
were compiled in a large binder for each member of the
committee. The hearing lasted hours, influencing many
of the members of the committee to demand action on
the issue of alimony reform. Notwithstanding this hearing, A-3909 was not posted for a vote.
But the pressure did not subside; rather, it increased.
After all, the legislative session ended in early Jan. 2014,
and the strong desire of the legislators to resolve alimony
reform before the end of the session only increased the
pressure on all sides. There were numerous articles,
op-eds and television stories about the ‘competing’ bills
for alimony reform. Legislators within the Assembly on
both sides of the issue were calling upon the leaders of
the bar and the reformers to reach consensus.
Then, suddenly, the Senate decided to take action.
Upset that the bill was not moving in the Assembly, and
frustrated by the lack of compromise, with very little
notice, the Senate Judiciary Committee posted S-2750 (the
Senate companion to A-3909) for a hearing and vote on
the afternoon of Dec. 16, 2013. A frenzy of lobbying on
both sides of the issue ensued, right through the Dec. 16
hearing date. Ultimately, with both sides fully represented
by their leaders and constituents in Trenton, minutes
before the hearing, S-2750 was pulled from the Senate
Judiciary Committee agenda and, once again, no action
In fact, the legislative session ended in Jan. 2014, and
no action was taken on any of the alimony bills/resolutions. But with the new session, all of the bills/resolutions
• A-3909 was reintroduced as A-845
• S-2750 was reintroduced as S-488
• A-4525 was reintroduced as A-1649
The lobbying continued on both sides for the next
several months. However, with no real movement toward
resolution occurring, the legislative leadership made
it clear that the issue of alimony reform needed to be
resolved. If the interested parties were not going to reach
resolution, the legislators would force a resolution.
The first true breakthrough occurred in early April
2014, when the author met with Assemblyman John
McKeon, the chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee
(the committee in which any bill concerning reform would
be introduced). Assemblyman McKeon spent significant
time discussing alimony reform, the implications of the
competing bills, and the political climate regarding the
issue. Based on this interaction, he took an active role
on this issue. He contacted the representatives from the
reform group and listened to their points of view as well.
But, most importantly, in mid-May 2014, he scheduled a meeting between two officers from the Family Law
Section and a group from New Jersey Alimony Reform. On
May 9, 2014, after several hours of negotiations between
the groups, with Assemblyman McKeon and members of
the legislative staff moving back and forth between the
two camps, it appeared there was an agreement. A draft
of the proposed compromise bill was given to each of the
groups in order to obtain support from their respective
memberships at large, with the intention that the compromise bill would be posted for a vote the following week.
The ultimate goal was to have a new alimony bill in place
before the Legislature retired for the summer.
The Family Law Section, by email distribution and
vote, agreed to support introduction and passage of
the compromise bill, with only a couple of minor, nonsubstantive changes requested. The reform group was
unable to garner the same support. By the following week,
New Jersey Alimony Reform had submitted numerous
substantive changes and, essentially, backed out of the
tentative agreement. It appeared the proposed compromise bill was not garnering political support either.
A few weeks later, though, there was a second breakthrough. The legislators who had been actively involved
in the sponsorship of the competing alimony reform bills
organized another meeting of the differing groups and
their lobbyists. This meeting came to fruition through
the efforts of the Family Law Section officers and their
continued communications with the various interested
legislators. Once again, the hope was to reach resolution
on a compromise bill before the end of June 2014, before
the Legislature acted on its own.