A New Jersey family court judge’s decision to order spousal support, or alimony, in a divorce proceeding is based on a number of factors. The main issue at hand is how can a reasonable standard of living be maintained for both spouses. There is no formula for calculating alimony in New Jersey. Instead, a judge considers facts such as length of marriage, lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage, each spouse’s earning potential and education, and expenses going forward.
If something changes after the judge issues an order for alimony, either spouse has the right to go back to court to attempt to modify the order. Rest assured, changing the order for spousal support won’t be easy, but it can be done. You need a savvy alimony modification lawyer on your side who understands these complex laws and will fight for your financial needs in New Jersey family court. Contact Graziano & Flynn for a consultation about your case.Convincing a NJ Judge to Modify an Alimony Order in Cherry Hill
Since the main purpose of alimony is to allow both spouses to maintain a reasonable standard of living, it stands to reason that, when circumstances change, there may be more or less of a need for spousal support. However, it’s important to understand that New Jersey family judges won’t judge grant requests for alimony modification just because you asked for one. The filer must prove there is an actual change in circumstances that necessitates the change.
Under new alimony guidelines adopted by the NJ Legislature in 2014 (N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23), common reasons judges will consider an alimony modification request include when:
- One spouse has a health condition
- There is a significant decrease in income
- A business fails
- One of the spouse’s retire
The truth is, however, judges do not approve alimony modification easily and rarely will job loss or unemployment convince a judge to change an order (unless the particular unemployment situation is one of the circumstances outlined in the statute.) This is because the paying party will be required to seek new employment. If the person who is paying alimony is able to prove a substantial and long-term, if not permanent, change in their ability to pay, the judge may grant the alimony modification.
However, a modification doesn’t mean that alimony payments won’t be required; instead, a judge can decrease the amount of alimony to be paid for a period of time or indefinitely.New Jersey Alimony Modification Frequently Asked Questions Q. My Ex Got Remarried. Do I Still Have to Pay Alimony?
No. If your ex gets remarried, the court will likely terminate the alimony award judgment. It is believed that your ex will now be supported financially within the new marriage and, therefore, will no longer be dependent in any way on you. Further, if your ex’s new marriage fails, he or she will not be able to return to you for financial support.Q. My Spouse is Living with Another Person Now. Do I Still Have to Pay Alimony?
Cohabitation is a factor into suspending or eliminating alimony. The new alimony statute has, in many ways, made it easier to prove cohabitation, in part, because proof of actually living together is no longer necessary.Q. How Does Bankruptcy Impact Alimony Obligations?
It doesn’t. Under US Bankruptcy Code, you cannot discharge any debt related to alimony or child support.Q. Would a Judge Ever Consider Increasing the Amount of Alimony to Be Paid?
Once again, the criteria for alimony is that both spouses are able to maintain a reasonable lifestyle post divorce. If something changes and one spouse needs additional spousal support to maintain a decent lifestyle, that spouse will have to prove his or her case to a judge. If an increase can be appropriately justified, the family court judge has the power to increase the alimony order.Q. I Feel I Pay too Much in Alimony? Can I Ask a Judge to Decrease the Amount I Have to Pay My Ex?
If your income substantially declines and you have no way to earn the living you were making at the time the alimony order was instituted (for example, you are critically injured in an accident and are on permanent disability), you may ask the court to lower or terminate your spousal support obligation. However, if the judge deems that you are “underemployed” or voluntarily unemployed, it’s unlikely your request to decrease alimony will be approved.Q. How Does Retirement Impact an Alimony Order in New Jersey?
If one party reaches age 65 and retires, he or she may seek to decrease or terminate alimony. The court will consider a variety of factors, including age and health of the retiring party, and the timing of your retirement.
However, the judge is likely to review pensions, retirement accounts and whether one spouse decided to retire specifically to get out of paying alimony. If you decide to retire before age 65, you can still request a termination or modification of alimony but your burden of proof will be increased.Contact Graziano & Flynn Today for a Free Consultation About Your Alimony Modification Request
Alimony laws in New Jersey are complicated. If you are seeking a modification to your current spousal support order, whether you are the payor or recipient of alimony, you need a knowledgeable lawyer on your team. Contact Ronald Graziano of Graziano & Flynn in Cherry Hill, NJ, today for a consultation about your modification request. He has helped countless clients through divorces and other family law-related matters. He will help you, as well, and protect your rights while he fights for your interests.