Reduce Alimony Payments? Can Alimony Be Modified in NJ?
Starting a divorce is a stressful experience. However, when it turns out that forever isn’t as long as expected, you have to deal with the messy consequences of separating your lives.
Then, there’s everything that comes next. Like alimony modification, to reflect when your life circumstances change.
If your life has changed and you need to reduce alimony payments with alimony modification to reflect it, here’s what you need to know before you head back to court.
Can You Modify Alimony in NJ?
Can alimony be modified? Yes, but you must build a strong case.
On paper, the requirements for an alimony modification are straightforward. First, you have to demonstrate a change of circumstances. More specifically, as the party requesting a change, you have to prove that you have undergone a significant, involuntary change in financial circumstances, which renders you unable to continue making alimony payments at the current level. For example, you cannot retire early to avoid alimony.
Lepis v. Lepis and Change of Circumstances
You’ll often hear mention of the Lepis v. Lepis holding, which is the court case New Jersey family courts use to analyze alimony modification applications. Under Lepis, the courts recognize the following as changes of circumstances that qualify as grounds to reduce alimony:
- An increase or decrease in the supporting spouse’s income
- An increase in the cost of living
- Loss of the house or apartment by the wife
- The former wife’s cohabitation with another man
- Unemployment by the payor
- Illness, infirmity, or disability after the divorce
Again, because you are requesting a change, you carry the burden of proof (the responsibility to prove a disputed defense, charge, or allegation).
However, while the courts recognize the above situations as potential grounds to reduce alimony, there is no clear-cut answer for what constitutes a “change in circumstances,” which must be proven under the law. The most common situations include things like:
- A spouse is cohabiting with another partner of the opposite sex
- Reduction in one party’s income
- Inability or refusal to find employment
- Support of an ex-wife by her companion
However, the simple fact of these changes is not enough to qualify for NJ alimony reduction. Again, you cannot retire early to avoid paying alimony (or any other effort taken solely to avoid alimony, for that matter). In order to reduce alimony payments you have to build a strong case showing that the change in circumstances was outside of your control.
Your Guide Through Alimony Modification and Alimony Reduction in NJ
Alimony modification in New Jersey is a complicated process. And to navigate it successfully, it helps to have the right attorney on your side.
At Dalena and Bosch, we’re experts in family and divorce law, including contested divorce and collaborative divorce. But for us, it’s about more than just legal expertise. It’s about holding your hand when you need it most, through the most challenging days of your life, so that you have the support you need to work toward your best possible outcome.
If you need to speak with our team about your options, get in touch today to start a conversation about your case.