By John Clark
A New Jersey man has been languishing in a county jail for nearly seven weeks after allegedly failing to pay alimony, and a group of protesters believe he should be promptly released, according to a report this week from the Star-Ledger.
Sources say John Waldorf has been in jail for more than six weeks after facing a charge of “non-support” following his alleged failure to meet his alimony obligations.
But Waldorf and several supporters believe he is a victim of outdated state alimony laws in New Jersey that allow one party in a divorce to receive lifetime payments, even in the event of dramatic lifestyle changes.
According to sources, Waldorf divorced his wife in 2011 and was ordered to pay $2,000 a week in maintenance, which amounts to a little more than $104,000 a year. He was also ordered to pay more than $3,300 in child support.
Waldorf, however, has only been earning an average of about $90,000 a year, according to Bruce Eden, a director of Dads Against Discrimination, which advocates for more father-friendly divorce laws across the United States.
To make matters worse, Waldorf reportedly lost his job due to his temporary incarceration, which means that his ex-wife will continue to get nothing while taxpayers pay to keep Waldorf behind bars.
Sources also note that Eden has criticized Judge Hany Mawla, the justice who put Waldorf behind bars, for allegedly bringing her personal bias into the decision.
Judge Mawla was allegedly a member of Women Against Family Assault before she became a judge, which, according to Eden, creates a bias that should prevent her from deciding cases in a family court.
Of course, Eden will have a difficult time proving that a personal opposition to family assault should preclude someone from serving on a family court.
Eden’s strongest argument, though, is likely his claim that Waldorf is being jailed for his debt, which is unconstitutional. This argument could hold some weight, while the others are likely to fail in court.
But despite raising some questionable arguments, Eden’s cheerleading may prove beneficial for Waldorf, who will eventually have to pay some token amount of alimony in order to escape his current predicament.
In the meantime, Waldorf’s plight will provide fodder for alimony reform groups in New Jersey that are looking to eliminate lifetime alimony and limit the amount of discretion judges have in creating alimony plans.
According to these groups, the state’s alimony laws were written at a time when women rarely worked outside the home and were often unable to support themselves after a divorce. Due to modern economic realities, these groups claim, alimony laws should see sweeping changes.