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The Standard for Modifying Alimony

Once you start receiving alimony — even if it is what New Jersey law considers "permanent alimony" — does not mean it may never change. There are many legal reasons why alimony can be modified or even terminated.

First, alimony is terminated upon the:

  • Death of the payer
  • Death of the recipient
  • Remarriage of the recipient

Another way alimony may be terminated is when the former spouses agree to a limited duration alimony. In that situation, alimony terminates at the end date of the agreement.

If you are paying alimony that you think should be terminated, call Monmouth County divorce attorney Steven Monaghan at (732) 624-6343.

Life Circumstances Change & so Does Alimony

There are also many events that may modify and/or terminate the alimony payments. To cause alimony to change, these events must be either significant or permanent changes in circumstances.

Some examples include:

  • An involuntary loss of employment: The alimony payer has made a diligent effort to find comparable income in a comparable position but the position pays less income.
  • Changes in physical condition: The payer becomes permanently disabled.
  • Cohabitation by the alimony recipient in a marriage-like relationship: It is the financial benefit being derived from cohabitation, not necessarily the cohabitation itself, that causes the modification.
  • Good faith retirement of the alimony payer: When this happens at the normal retirement age, it is genuinely a permanent change in circumstances that warrant modifying alimony.
  • Changes in the recipient's physical condition or income: In this case, the modification of alimony can be to increase it.

These are just some common examples of significant or permanent changes that result in modifying alimony.

What New Jersey Requires to Modify Alimony

In a 1980 landmark case, the New Jersey court set the standard for evaluating modification claims. In this case, the court established that the person seeking modification first files an application with the court outlining the change of circumstances. If the court agrees that the changes they have outlined are sufficient, then the issue of alimony is open to discovery and a hearing is scheduled to determine whether the support should be modified, and what the new support amount should be.

However, the Court Does Not Have All the Say

By agreement, the divorcing spouses are free to alter the events that involve the termination or modification of alimony. There are many circumstances where people agree that certain events shall not modify alimony, or that other events shall be automatic termination events, or simply to agree that the alimony is not modifiable for any reason at all.

Seeking a Modification of Alimony? Call Us.

If you are seeking a change in your alimony agreement, talk to one of the Monmouth County divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Steven P. Monaghan, LLC. We have 60+ years of combined experience and are ready to help you!

Your first consultation is always free. Call (732) 624-6343 go online to complete the form.

*Lepis v. Lepis 83 N.J. 139 (1980)

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