Alimony Modification in New Jersey
Our Divorce Lawyers are Your Advocate in Spousal Support Modifications
IS YOUR ALIMONY ARRANGEMENT NOT WORKING FOR YOU ANYMORE?
If you pay or receive alimony, also known as spousal support, and your financial circumstances or those of your ex-spouse have substantially changed since the original alimony order, you may wonder whether payments can be modified. If your alimony agreement or court order does prohibit you from modifying what you previously agreed upon, you may be able to have that arrangement to reduce, terminate or increase payments depending on your specific situation.
New Jersey courts will only modify alimony previously agreed upon in limited circumstances. If you are the person requesting the modification, you’ll have the burden of proving a significant change in circumstances and showing why the decrease or increase in payments is necessary.
Experienced Alimony Modification Lawyer Provides Knowledgeable Guidance
Like other post-divorce modifications, modifying alimony orders is not a straightforward process, unless both parties agree to it, which is typically not the case. At Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC, we can help you understand your options for potentially having your alimony modified based on the unique details of your circumstances. We can also defend against a spousal support modification request if it is not in your interests.
Call us at (201) 880-9770 to arrange a time to speak with our experienced alimony modification lawyer.
Under What Circumstances Can You Modify Alimony?
New Jersey statute § 2A:34-23 governs alimony and alimony modifications. The following events are considered trigger events that you may utilize as a reason to modify (or terminate, as the case may be) the previous alimony arrangement. These include:
- Retirement of the paying spouse
- A significant, involuntary and long-term decrease in the paying spouse’s income
- A raise or other significant and long-term increase in the receiving spouse’s income
- Serious illness or disability of the paying spouse
- Cohabitation of the receiving spouse in a romantic relationship
- Remarriage of the receiving spouse
- Failure of the receiving spouse to make reasonable efforts to find employment.
There are many conditions and caveats within the law to each of these circumstances that can affect whether a spousal support modification will be granted. Additionally, provisions in your divorce agreement may limit the circumstances in which spousal support orders can be changed.. Because alimony modifications in New Jersey are so specific to the unique situations of the parties involved, it is to your great benefit to seek the help of a divorce and family law attorney when thinking about whether to change the previous alimony arrangement. Call our New Jersey alimony modification lawyer for assistance by dialing (201) 880-9770.
How Do You Modify Alimony In New Jersey?
The simplest way to modify or terminate alimony is to come to a mutual agreement with your former spouse. If you can agree to the changes between yourselves or maybe with the assistance of a mediator through the mediation process, then you can simply write up a consent agreement and have the Court file it; that will then become the new updated arrangement.
Of course, for many former spouses, alimony is a very contentious topic and reaching agreement is not a possibility. If you are in this situation and want to modify of terminate alimony, the only other recourse you have is to file a motion with the court and tell the court what and why you want to change the current alimony arrangement. Be prepared to prove whatever your reasons are to the court too!
A motion is a request to the judge that describes the change in circumstances and your reasons of why alimony should be modified. Your reasons cannot just be that you cannot afford it anymore or you no longer like the deal you struck in the past. See above for some triggering events that have occurred (or about to occur) to make a legitimate request to the Court to change your current alimony protocol. The more evidence you have to support your request, the better chance you have of your modification or termination being approved. The type of documentation and evidence that may sway the judge in your favor will be determined by the reason for the changed circumstances. Examples of types of evidence to prove changed circumstances based on various situations include:
- Doctor notes and medical records if you have become permanently ill or disabled- or even proof from the State that you have been declared permanently disabled and receiving government assistance.
- A notice of termination from your employer if you were laid off or fired from your job and proof that you have used your best efforts to find alternate employment similar to that in which you were doing;
- Pay stubs, tax returns, list of assets and liabilities, along with other financial documents that highlight your financial situation
- Declarations from current spouses showing assets and debts
- Marriage license if your former spouse remarried or social media pictures/posts;
Proof of cohabitation such as a private investigator report or social media, etc. This is more complicated area of the law and proving this is not easy. See our other page on cohabitation and definitely speak with an attorney before spending money on a private investigator. Our alimony modification lawyers know what kind of evidence is needed to legitimately convince judges of a significant changed circumstances. When you need to have your alimony payments reduced because you can no longer afford to pay them, increase to maintain the marital standard of living despite all your best efforts to help support yourself, or terminate the current alimony due to your spouse’s remarriage or cohabitation Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC will identify and gather the necessary evidence to prove your case. Call us at (201) 880-9770 to schedule a case evaluation.
Additional Steps in the Process of Seeking a Spousal Support Modification
In addition to submitting your post-judgment motion request paperwork and accompanying documentation to the court, there are other steps in the process that must be correctly taken. They include the following:
- Paying the court filing fee. You can contact the court for the current filing fee amount, or an alimony modification lawyer from our firm can handle the filing process and pay the fee for you.
- Serving your ex-spouse with the motion and proposed new order. You must serve your ex with two (2) copies of the alimony modification motion at least 24 days before the scheduled court hearing date. The court will want you to prove that you served the other party; there are certain requirements around service that you need to be aware of; you are not allowed to just hand it to your former spouse.
- Meeting court dates. There are specific timelines that must be adhered to in filing and responding to a motion for an alimony modification. There is a copy of these deadlines on the New Jersey Court Website.
If you miss deadlines or do not correctly carry out the procedural steps, you could find your application to have your alimony payments modified rejected for failure to comply with the rules. You will have another chance to do it correctly, but you would have wasted all the time and energy the first time around. If your ex-spouse filed the motion against you, there are also timelines and other requirements you need to meet to defend against that application and tell your side of the story, along with being in compliance with court rules. The bottom line is navigating all of this to make sure you didn’t miss something material to the outcome of what you want is why it is always best practices to speak with an attorney first to get the lay of the land, strategy what comes next, and whether you even have a viable case that you should put your money, time, and energy into.
A knowledgeable alimony modification lawyer will work to ensure that the appropriate evidence is gathered to present your case in the best way possible, whether you are requesting an alimony change or defending against one, and we will ensure that every element of the filing process is properly carried out.
Behind the curtain: Demystifying what Happens in the Modification Hearing with the Judge?
Our Alimony Modification Lawyers Will Ensure You Are Well-Prepared for Court
At the court hearing, you and your ex-spouse, with your attorneys, will each highlight from the paperwork you supplied to the court before the court date why you think you are entitled to a modification or termination or alimony, or, why you want to the current arrangement to stay as is. If you are the party that initiated the modification request, the burden will be on you to convince the court that changed circumstances have made it necessary for you to pay less in alimony or to stop paying alimony altogether, or that changed circumstances warrant you to receive an increase. You should be prepared to answer any questions that the judge has, including whether you and your ex attempted to resolve the issue yourselves or in mediation before filing a motion with the court. Pro tip: always try to open a dialogue with your former spouse first before running into court; the Judges like to see that you attempted to resolve the issues on your own before involving them. Then, if you can’t, you have every right to seek the assistance of the court to make the decision.
Once the judge has heard both parties tell their side of the story, he or she will make a decision about the modification. The ruling may be made that same day or shortly thereafter, if more information is needed. When we represent you in seeking an alimony modification or defending the existing order, our attorneys will ensure that you understand what will take place in the hearing and are well-prepared for your appearance before the court. We will be explaining things and giving you an education step by step along the way.
What Not to Do If You Can No Longer Afford Your Alimony Payments
When you have lost your job or had another serious financial setback and are struggling to support yourself, it may be tempting to stop making your alimony payments. However, you could get yourself in serious legal trouble by doing so. To potentially reduce the amount of your payments or stop making them altogether, you must have the original alimony agreement changed formally—either by your former spouses’ consent (in writing) or by a new Court Order giving you permission. It is critical that you reach out as soon as you lose your job or have another financial problem that affects your ability to pay so we can assess the situation and get your ducks in a row to figure out the next best step. We can assist you in attempting to obtain a new spousal support agreement for you that is fair based upon your changed financial circumstances.
Can You Reduce Alimony Payments? Can You Increase Alimony Payments?
Speak with Our New Jersey Alimony Modification Lawyer to Learn Whether You Can Modify Spousal Support in Your Situation
We have helped many people modify post-divorce orders whether through negotiation or through motion practice with the Court, including those involving spousal support. We have seen how frustrating it can be for people to have to keep paying an ex-spouse money when that spouse is now cohabitating with someone else, re-married, or just not trying hard enough to become self-supporting. It is more infuriating when that ex-spouse has had a significant raise in their own income and can take care of themselves but still feels entitled to get money from you at the same level before they got a pay increase!
We know how difficult it is to pay an ex-partner spousal support if your income has been reduced and you are barely squeaking by yourself. We want to help you get out from under unfair alimony payments. We can also help you if you need an increase in alimony or to have an existing order defended.
To get strategic and aggressive legal help, call (201) 880-9770 to arrange a time to speak with an attorney at Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC. Our attorneys have many years of experience in all matters pertaining to divorce, alimony, and alimony modifications.