New Jersey law allows for either ex-spouse to make a request for modification of support, be it a nonpaying spouse in need of additional support or a paying spouse who can no longer afford his or her alimony payments.
There may be grounds for modifying alimony under the following circumstances:
- Increase in the cost of living
- Unemployment or reduction in income for either party
- Increase or decrease in income for either party
- Long-term illness or disability suffered by either party
- An inheritance received by the party receiving alimony
- The loss of a home or apartment by the party receiving alimony
- Co-habitation with another person by the party receiving alimony
The court will look carefully at the needs of the person receiving alimony and their ability to meet their own needs as well as the ability of the person paying alimony to meet their obligation. The person making the modification request must prove a “substantial change in circumstances,” meaning that the change must be large enough to make the original terms of the final divorce agreement unsustainable. In addition, the event(s) causing the change must have been unanticipated at the time the final agreement was written.
For those who are unable to meet their spousal support obligations, it is vitally important to take immediate steps to have a support order changed. Any support payments that are missed – called “arrears” – cannot be discharged by the court retroactively. Support payments are also not dischargeable if you file bankruptcy.
It is also important to follow the proper procedures to avoid facing a contempt order for violating the terms of the original court order. Too often people get into trouble because they thought they had an agreement worked out with an ex-spouse, only to find themselves facing charges of non-payment and contempt of court.
Your New Jersey divorce attorney is the best resource for providing you with the information you need to proceed with a proper modification of support request. He or she will be able to guide you through the necessary steps for filing your modification of support request with the court, so it is formalized and a matter of record.
Protecting your interests and achieving results that support your needs is what you can expect from Murphy & Cistaro. Contact us today for your free consultation.