On September 10, 2014, various provisions of New Jersey’s alimony law were revised. In addition to other changes, the amended law enumerates certain factors concerning modification and termination of alimony, also referred to as spousal support.
New Jersey Case Law
New Jersey case law has determined that the party seeking to modify or amend a spousal support obligation bears the initial burden of demonstrating that changed circumstances have substantially impaired the ability to support himself or herself, meriting the suspension, reduction or complete termination of alimony. (Lepis v. Lepis)
When making a determination about whether the changed circumstance warrants a modification or termination of an alimony award, a New Jersey family law judge must consider the terms of the alimony order and compare the facts as they were when that order was entered with the facts as they are at the time of the motion to modify or terminate alimony. (Faucett v. Vasquez)
Not only will a change in income be considered, but judges will also look at how the ex-spouses have expended their income and utilized their assets. (Donnelly v. Donnelly)
There are also other changes in circumstances that can result in modification or termination of an alimony award.
Changed Circumstances of Party Paying Alimony
According to NJ Rev Stat § 2A:34-23 (2014), changed circumstances could include the paying party’s retirement, serious illness or disability, significant reduction in income, long-term unemployment, as well as other factors.
As a general rule, an individual is not required to continue to pay spousal support to his or her former spouse if the ex-spouse remarries or cohabitates with a new partner. However, the remarriage or cohabitation of the party paying spousal support will not change his or her obligation.
In instances were alimony has been terminated based on remarriage, the original alimony award may not be reinstated at a later time if the subsequent marriage ends in divorce.
Changed Circumstances of Party Receiving Alimony
Changed circumstances of the party receiving alimony can also affect his or her right to spousal support. A payee’s s increased salary, inheritance, remarriage or cohabitation can be enough to warrant the modification or termination of an alimony award.
Alimony modification and termination requests in New Jersey courts are frequently based on the cohabitation of the party receiving spousal support. In order to reduce or terminate an alimony award due to cohabitation by the payee, the relationship at issue must be tantamount to a marriage, not just a roommate arrangement.
Factors relevant to determining what constitutes cohabitation include sharing a common residence, assisting one another with household chores, romantic involvement and public recognition as a couple.
Additionally, a cohabiting couple’s shared financial accounts or assets and any financial contributions made towards household expenses also play a role in whether a New Jersey court will grant a request to modify or terminate spousal support.
The information on this website is intended as general legal information only and should not form the basis of legal advice of any kind. Individuals seeking specific legal advice should consult a lawyer.