New Jersey Appeals Court Upholds Alimony Obligations

When a person’s financial situation changes—either positively or negatively—it can impact other aspects of the person’s life as well. This may include being able to pay for groceries, rent, or even alimony. In a recent New Jersey case, the appellate court was tasked with determining whether a consent order signed after the ex-husband purportedly lost a majority of his income was enforceable. Ultimately, the court ruled the consent order was not conscionable considering it was entered under fraudulent circumstances.

In this case, the couple was married for more than thirty years before divorcing in January of 2011. The divorce settlement included an agreement that the ex-husband, who was the Chief Scientific Officer of a major company, agreed to pay the ex-wife $12,000 per month in alimony. A few years later, the ex-husband was let go from his job. He then filed a motion asking to reduce his alimony payments as he was disabled and unable to work at the time. The parties then settled and reduced the alimony payment to $3,200 per month in a consent order. However, the ex-wife later learned the ex-husband was re-employed and was not actually disabled to the point of being unable to work. She sought to vacate the Consent Order. The court below agreed with the ex-wife and vacated the Consent Order—thus reinstituting the ex-wife’s alimony payments of $12,000 per month.

The ex-husband argued that the lower court should not have reinstated the initial alimony payments by vacating the Consent Order. He explained that the ex-wife did not prove the consent order was secured by fraud—meaning him lying about being disabled and unable to work.

In its opinion, the court emphasized that the ex-wife had proven the ex-husband had acted fraudulently. The ex-husband knew he was able to work and lied about it in order to pay his ex-wife less in alimony,  and the only reason the alimony payments were reduced was due to this lie. In New Jersey, if a family law agreement is entered into due to one party’s fraudulent misrepresentations, then the other party may seek to vacate that agreement.  It would be immoral to continue to enforce the reduced alimony amount considering the ex-husband knowingly lied to obtain it. Therefore, the court ruled it was appropriate for the Consent Order reducing the alimony amount to be vacated and the wife’s $12,000 per month alimony reinstated.

Because arguing for a reduction in alimony payments can be complicated and fact-senstive, individuals whose financial situation has recently changed and pay alimony should contact an experienced divorce attorney right away.

Contact a New Jersey Divorce Attorney

If you or a loved one is going through a divorce—or believes there should be a modification in their alimony payments—contact the Law Office of Jeffrey R. Brown. Attorney Brown has years of hands-on experience handling all types of divorce cases—he is here to help with any complex divorce legal issue you may face. The Law Office of Jeffrey R. Brown, Esq., LLC represents people throughout New Jersey. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact us at 732-613-0066 today.

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