The amount you are paying in alimony may not be carved in stone. Just as circumstances change for people as time goes on, so can alimony payments. Sometimes the amount of alimony payments may change; and in some cases, you may be able to stop making payments altogether. If you’re seeking to have the alimony payments you’re making reduced or stopped, it will be up to you to convince the court that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that warrants a modification or termination in alimony payments. Getting a post-divorce modification to alimony isn’t a simple process. It is wise to have the help of a family lawyer with in-depth understanding of New Jersey alimony law.
Understanding What Can Cause Alimony Payments to Change
NJ Statute §2A:34-23 describes when alimony payments may be modified, suspended or terminated based on various circumstances. Circumstances that may be considered substantial enough to change alimony payments include job loss, job gain, retirement, remarriage, cohabitation and others of either you or your ex-spouse.
I Lost My Job. Does My Alimony Payment Change?
Will your alimony payment change if you lose your job? The answer is “it depends.” If you lose your job and ask for your alimony to be decreased or terminated, the court will want to know why you lost your job, whether it was voluntary or involuntary, what efforts have you started to look for another job to earn a similar salary, proof of your reduced income and financial situation, and the length of time of your new situation. In other words, you can’t quit your job or ask for a layoff to get out of paying alimony. If you’ve involuntarily lost your job, you’ll have to show that you’re making a good faith effort to find similar-paying work. A temporary job loss will not automatically entitle you to a modification. That said, there is no bright line rule on the definition of “temporary” and these cases are very fact specific.
If My Ex-Spouse Gets a New Job, Will Alimony Change?
If your ex-spouse is now working, got a better paying job, or promotion, you might be wondering if your, alimony payment can change. It will mostly depend upon how much their situation changed financially and/or whether their increased income has affected their standard of living. If the increased income still isn’t enough to raise them up to the same standard of living they had before your divorce, you may not be able to get your alimony terminated or even reduced. Then again, this depends on what kind of representation your ex-spouse made at the time of the divorce on whether she could or could not sustain the marital standard of living with the alimony originally agreed upon.
My Ex Moved in with Someone. Does That Mean Alimony Payments Will Change?
Alimony may be terminated or suspended due to cohabitation. NJ Statute §2A:34-23(n) describes cohabitation as “a mutually supportive, intimate personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken duties and privileges that are commonly associated with marriage or civil union but does not necessarily maintain a single common household.” To determine whether your ex-spouse is cohabitating, the court may consider whether the couple has joint bank accounts or other intertwined finances, whether they are sharing responsibility for living expenses, how their relationship is recognized among family and friends, whether they share a home, whether they share household chores and more. You need more than just “speculation” for the Court to let you further delve into your ex-spouses finances. A lot of people may rush to obtain and pay for a private investigator to provide some insight into your ex-spouse’s situation. Private investigators are a great resource, but it would be beneficial to speak with an attorney before retaining a private investigator to make sure the strategy of what you are thinking aligns with the law.
Alimony Payments Usually End When Your Ex-Spouse Remarries
In New Jersey, if your ex-spouse remarries, your obligation to pay alimony ends upon the marriage. The exception to termination is if you are paying reimbursement alimony, which pays your ex back for support while you got an education that your ex expected to benefit from. Reimbursement alimony will not be modified for remarriage or any other reason.
You may also wonder whether you must continue paying alimony if you remarry. The answer is an emphatic “yes.” Your remarriage does not change your spousal support obligation. Of course, if you are the recipient of alimony and your ex remarries, they must still pay you.
Changes to Alimony at Retirement
Generally, alimony payments can be modified or terminated at full retirement age, which is the age at which you would be eligible to receive full Social Security benefits. Full retirement age varies, depending on the year you were born. If you retire before full retirement age, you may also be able to have your alimony payments change but will have to show the court that your retirement was in good faith. The judge will consider such things as:
- Your motives for retiring
- The age and health of you and your former spouse
- The type of work you did and the generally accepted age of retirement in that field
- Whether your place of employment had a mandatory retirement age
- Anything else the court deems relevant.
Other Changes in Circumstance
There are other things that can happen in life that may be considered by the court as a substantial change in circumstances that could be reason for a modification to alimony payments. Becoming disabled or being diagnosed with a serious illness are examples.
If you believe you’ve had a change in circumstances that warrants a reduction or end to alimony payments, it’s smart to speak with a New Jersey family law attorney for guidance.
The Process for Reducing Alimony in NJ
There are several complex steps involved when seeking an alimony reduction or termination in New Jersey. You could try to negotiate with your ex-spouse or her attorney. If that fails or you know that negotiation with your ex-spouse will not be productive, you’ll have to file a motion with the family law court asking for a change to your alimony order. The New Jersey Courts recommend in their “change of order packet” that you get a lawyer rather than trying to represent yourself, given the legal complexities involved in the process. When you seek a post-divorce modification of your alimony, an attorney from our firm will take the lead to strategize and prepare the necessary forms and other pieces of evidence you may need.. Our attorney will also guide you throughout the process and be at your side during the motion hearing. Don’t go it alone when so much is at stake financially.
Under the right circumstances and with knowledgeable legal representation, you could be on your way to reduced alimony payments or leaving the headache of making payments to your ex-spouse completely behind.
Reach Out to Our Men’s Rights Family Lawyers
We Will Stand Up for Your Rights When Reasons for an Alimony Change Arise
To get help having your alimony payments modified or terminated after your divorce, reach out to our experienced family law firm. We will ensure there is careful review of all changes in circumstances before alimony payments are modified. Or if your ex-spouse is trying to reduce or stop payments to you, our alimony lawyer will work to protect your right to that financial support. At Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC, our lawyers stand up for the fair treatment of our clients following divorce. To find out more about how we can help you, call us at (201) 880-9770.