New Jersey Alimony Modifications
Alimony orders can create a significant and unjust financial strain on the payor in some situations, while in others, the amount ordered may be inadequate. Family courts in New Jersey have broad powers to enact these orders upon the request of either party to a divorce. However, these orders are not set in stone, and either party can ask a court to modify an existing alimony order with the help of an experienced alimony attorney.
However, the parties asking for a change cannot act on a whim. State law specifically requires the party petitioning for modifications to state how circumstances have changed, meriting an alteration to an existing alimony order. Understanding this requirement and taking the correct legal steps to request a change is essential when pursuing alimony modifications in New Jersey.
The Legal Basis for Demanding an Alimony Modification
Alimony is one of many tools available to family court judges for creating an equitable split following a divorce. When evaluating the need for alimony, judges generally examine the economic situation of both parties and their ability to support themselves after the end of the marriage. According to New Jersey Revised Statute § 2A:34-23, if a traditional distribution of assets and debts cannot result in a fair split, the court may order one party to provide alimony.
If the facts that led a court to issue an alimony order have changed to the extent that a current order is no longer appropriate, a party may petition a court to make a change. New Jersey alimony modifications may be possible if these changes in facts have occurred and can be proven to a judge.
What Changes in Circumstances May Justify an Alimony Modification?
To understand whether an alimony modification may be appropriate, it is necessary to understand the factors that a court will use to implement these orders. The court will examine several factors when evaluating the need for alimony including:
- The need and ability of the parties to pay
- The duration of the marriage
- The age, physical health, and emotional health of the parties
- The standard of living in the marriage
- The earning capacity of the parties
- The history of financial contribution to the marriage
Many of these factors will never change, such as the length of the marriage. However, others may vary over time, rendering the need for alimony moot. For example, if a receiving party has recently finished their education, allowing them to earn more money, the need for alimony may lessen. Similarly, if the receiving party gets remarried, they may now expect dual incomes or support in the family. Working with a New Jersey lawyer could help to evaluate whether significant changes in circumstances have occurred that may justify an alimony modification.
Seeking an Alimony Modification Could Help Your Family
New Jersey law states that any party undergoing a divorce or split in a civil union can ask the family court to consider the question of alimony. The court will evaluate the need for these payments based on a single moment in time. The same statute that authorizes the creation of these orders also allows for modifications if changes in circumstances occur. When this is the case, either party may ask a court to modify or negate an alimony order.
It is essential that parties understand the purpose of alimony and how shifting circumstances may change the equation. To learn more about your legal options and to start working toward an alimony modification in New Jersey, call our legal team today.