Will Alimony be Reduced After a Job Change?

In our previous blog, we discussed some of the most important and lesser-known aspects of alimony. From how and when it’s awarded to the way it is taxed, how long it lasts, and what options for resolutions spouses may have, alimony can be one of the most significant parts of a divorce case. However, alimony also has post-divorce implications, especially when it comes to modifications.

In New Jersey, spouses have the ability to seek modifications of various divorce and family law orders, including orders regarding child custody, visiting and parenting time, and – in some cases – alimony. These are generally the most common issues subject to review and modification after a divorce, as changing circumstances can impact one’s ability to fulfil obligations, or one’s need for support.

At Moskowitz Law Group, LLC, our family law attorneys work with many clients throughout New Jersey and New York with various legal concerns after a finalized divorce. This includes concerns created by employment changes. Below, we discuss a few key points about job changes, alimony, and New Jersey laws regarding court order modifications.

  • Significant change in circumstances – Former spouses have the ability to agree to any modifications they wish, but because nobody is usually itching to change support payments they receive, determining whether a modification is in order usually falls into the hands of the court. Generally, courts will allow for review and potential modifications of divorce orders, including awards for alimony, if there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the order was first established, no matter if that order was consented to as part of a settlement, or handed down by the court at trial.
  • Voluntary employment changes – Divorce orders are binding legal obligations, and the standard of “significant change” is used to allow for modifications only when they are deemed truly necessary. This being the case, a voluntary job change, such as voluntary under-employment, won’t typically be viewed as a change in circumstance significant enough to warrant a modification. This is a tough reality for parties who may choose a different, more rewarding or enjoyable career in exchange for less income, and courts typically hold to the idea that obligations were set and known prior to voluntary changes.
  • Job loss and “good faith”– Job loss is a common reason why people seek alimony modifications after a divorce, but job loss alone doesn’t guarantee an automatic reduction or termination of alimony. In fact, parties seeking modifications of alimony after job loss have the burden of proving they made “good faith” efforts to find comparable employment. If a new job is found that pays less, those parties will also have to demonstrate how, despite know fault of their own and given their education, work history, and employability, the current job was the best they could find if they have any chance of obtaining a modification.
  • Time can be a factor – Time can also be an important factor when it comes to job changes and alimony modifications, as courts want to see that good faith efforts were made to find employment that would allow a spouse to meet their alimony obligations as ordered in their divorce agreement. A person who immediately petitions for a modification after little attempt to find a similar line of work and pay is much less likely to obtain one than a person who made many efforts to find comparable employment over a longer period of time. Time adds to the evidence of good faith efforts petitioners must provide, but it isn’t always the end-all be-all if other circumstances exist.

Discuss a Post-Divorce or Family Law Modification by Calling Our Team

Moskowitz Law Group, LLC is a Bergen County law firm devoted to divorce and family law matters. Licensed in New Jersey and New York, our attorneys have leveraged more than 50 years of combined experience to help thousands of clients across both states navigate their unique legal journeys. From divorce proceedings and stand-alone family law issues to modifications of post-divorce and other court orders, our legal team can provide the insight, resources, and skilled representation clients require when protecting their rights and seeking the best possible resolutions.

To discuss alimony, modifications, or any other family law matter, call (201) 241-4189 or contact us online to request your free consultation.

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