When life throws you a curve ball, your financial circumstances may change, so too may your ability to make alimony payments. Modifying, reducing, or terminating New Jersey alimony payments, however, can often be a tricky and complex legal situation. For parties considering such a change, it is crucial that you evaluate all of your options under state law to ensure the best chances of success.
In a recent Superior Court of New Jersey opinion, the court considered a case concerning the termination of alimony. The parties were married for nearly 13 years before getting divorced and agreeing to $100,000 a year in alimony, broken down into monthly payments. The plaintiff eventually moved to terminate alimony payments, arguing that an increase in the defendant’s income by $80,000 constituted a change in circumstances. The motion judge, however, found that the plaintiff failed to prove a change in circumstances warranting a modification of alimony. The judge further claimed that the plaintiff’s credibility was compromised and his arguments were unconvincing to warrant a change.
On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the judge failed to enforce the terms of the couple’s agreement and instead rewrote the parties’ contract. The Superior Court of New Jersey sided with the lower court’s decision on the issue and rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the judge rewrote the parties’ contract. Because the judge assessed the totality of the circumstances, including the negotiation of the parties’ agreement, the judge was both able to understand the context of the agreement but also the parties’ intent when crafting the language.
In New Jersey, there are a number of considerations that must be made if you are interested in modifying or looking into terminating your alimony. To modify or reduce alimony obligations and payments, a moving party must prove that they have experienced a substantial financial modification in circumstances that would render them unable to make payments. In most cases, the party who wishes to reduce or terminate alimony has the responsibility to prove that they have met this requirement.
To increase chances of success, it is crucial that the moving party demonstrate that he or she has experienced a significant involuntary change in circumstances. For example, the sudden, unexpected loss of a job, significant illness or ongoing health issues, or other circumstances could be grounds for being unable to continue providing alimony payments.
Additional circumstances, such as the sudden failure of a business, which has become more common as small business owners struggle during COVID-19, may also warrant consideration into termination or modification of alimony payments. In addition, significant increases in the cost of living, a decrease to your total compensation package, or even a substantial increase in your spouse’s income could be posed as arguments for modification. To ensure that you have the best chances at successfully terminating or modifying your alimony payments, it is best for potential plaintiffs to get in contact with an experienced attorney who can navigate these nuances with ease.
Do You Need a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer?
If you or someone you know is going through a divorce or considering a modification of their alimony, contact the Law Office of Jeffrey R. Brown. Attorney Brown has had years of experience representing clients and helping them navigate complex legal challenges involving New Jersey family law and divorce proceedings. To schedule a free consultation today, contact us at 732-613-0066.