What Happens When You Think Your Alimony Should Be Modified?
It could be that your divorce was over decades ago. In the meantime, circumstances have changed, and you feel your alimony should be modified. Is that possible? The answer is maybe. Upon application to the court, you may seek an increase or decrease in support payments. In fact, the judge might even decide to set aside alimony altogether.
First, you should know that there is one type of alimony that is not eligible for modification. In a previous article on support payments, we provided some insight into the four different types of alimony. Unlike the other three spousal support orders from the court, reimbursement alimony awards cannot be changed.
All things considered, reimbursement alimony is rarely ordered. It is a payment made to reimburse one party while the other was in pursuit of an advanced degree. For example, a husband may pay to put his wife through medical school. He is entitled to reimbursement alimony for the support he gave his spouse while she was pursuing that education.
Meanwhile, there are a few reasons that modifications to alimony awards are considered after the final divorce.
Alimony Modifications: Change in Circumstances
As you might guess, there are generally three types of post-judgment requests for alimony modifications. One is for an increase in payments, while another is for a decrease. Lastly, the court may entertain a motion terminating alimony altogether.
In most cases, the latter two court motions come from the party making the payments. That said, there are instances where formerly married couples may come to a joint agreement about decreasing or ending spousal support payments and merely ask the court to formalize their plan.
NJSA 2A:34-23 is the statute that deals with alimony and maintenance in New Jersey. When it comes to limited duration alimony, the court orders alimony for a specified number of years. Although the length of the award will not be subject to modification, the amount can be challenged.
Modification would be based on either a change in circumstances – or non-occurrence of circumstances presented at the time of the award. For example, alimony might be reduced if the person making the payments loses a job and cannot find another position making comparable money. The court would then contemplate this as a change in circumstances.
Retirement is a consideration when it comes to modification or termination of alimony. In reviewing requests, the court first looks at the prospective or actual dates of retirement. Age becomes a factor, as well as a determination calculating any arrearages (past due payments).
The court may also modify or terminate alimony based on a finding of cohabitation. Notably, cohabitation just doesn’t mean the recipient is living with another romantic partner. An experienced family law attorney can assist you if this is a prospective post-divorce issue.
If you are divorced and believe you should consider a post-judgment modification to your alimony award, the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone are happy to help you. Give us a call to discuss your situation.