Modify Your Alimony in New Jersey
Divorce, unfortunately, can be the gift that keeps on giving. Alimony, also called spousal support, is meant to maintain the economic status quo for the dependent spouse that they experienced during the marriage. Life, however, changes following a divorce, and your financial circumstances and those of your family may not be the same three, five, or 15 years following a divorce. If you are ordered to pay or receive alimony pursuant to a final divorce judgment, and your financial circumstances change down the line, you may need to petition the New Jersey court to modify your alimony requirements. New Jersey law allows modification of a spousal support award where changed circumstances merit such a change.
The Englewood alimony lawyers at Herbert & White are skilled, dedicated, and passionate divorce and family law attorneys who are prepared to fight for their clients’ rights when the terms of a divorce order no longer suit the circumstances of the parties involved.
When can alimony be modified in New Jersey?
At a broad level, alimony can be modified when a court finds that there are “changed circumstances” sufficient to warrant a modification of the alimony. Modifying alimony in New Jersey is not, however, a straightforward process. It is up to the judgment of the family court, and they do not have clear guidelines as to what qualifies as a sufficient change in circumstance.
Case law in New Jersey has provided a handful of situations that might (but may not always) merit modification of an alimony award. These situations include:
- Increase in the cost of living
- Increase or decrease in the paying spouse’s income
- Subsequent employment by the receiving spouse, or some other significant increase in income
- Illness, disability, or other infirmities that arise after the judgment
- Cohabitation of the recipient with another partner
- Changes in federal income tax law
If a court determines that a sufficient change in circumstance may have occurred, then the court will order a hearing and financial disclosures to determine if an increase is equitable and fair according to the law.
Recipient’s income increases
Alimony determinations are made at the time of divorce based on the financial circumstances of the parties at that time and by looking at the lifestyle of the parties during the course of their marriage. If the dependent spouse suddenly gets a new job or a massive raise, the paying spouse may seek to modify the alimony award. This is not always an easy prospect, and courts can go either way as to whether an increase in income merits a change in circumstance and how much of an increase is necessary to permit a modification.
Payor’s income increases
If the payor suddenly comes into a new source of money, the alimony recipient may wish to increase the alimony award. Courts, however, will not modify an alimony award simply because the payor is making more money. The recipient must show a need for increased alimony, based on changed circumstance.
Cohabitation of the recipient
If the dependent ex-spouse “cohabitates” with a new partner, then the supporting spouse may have grounds to end alimony payments. The dependent spouse does not need to fully remarry to trigger this change in circumstance. Rather, if the cohabitation indicates a change in financial circumstance for the dependent spouse, the law does not require that a supporting spouse continue paying alimony for the benefit of a third party.
Seek Legal Representation for Modifying Your Alimony Award After Your Divorce
Given the wide discretion the judge has in awarding alimony, it is very important to be well-represented in the post-divorce process, whether you receive alimony or have been ordered to pay. If you believe a change in your circumstances warrants a change in your alimony order, you will want to make sure the judge has an accurate picture of the factors to be considered and that your rights and interests are being properly considered in the final decision. Herbert & Weiss have a reputation both as aggressive litigators and persuasive negotiators. We know which factors are most important to influence an alimony award, we know how to most effectively argue that a modification is necessary, and we know how to prepare and present a convincing case. In Bergen County and northern New Jersey, contact an Englewood alimony modification lawyer at Herbert & Weiss to discuss whether you might be eligible to modify your alimony order given your financial circumstances.