Modification of Alimony and Child Support
Like other orders issued in a New Jersey divorce, orders for alimony (also known as maintenance or spousal support) and child support are considered final orders when the final judgment of dissolution is entered. However, it is possible to obtain a post-divorce modification of these orders when circumstances have changed which would justify a modification. At the Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro, we help former spouses who are seeking a modification of alimony or support orders, or who object to a proposed modification and wish to challenge the motion in court.
Alimony and Support Modifications under New Jersey Law
Section 2A:34-23 of New Jersey statutes states that alimony and child support may be revised and altered by the court from time to time as circumstances require. A leading case in this area is Lepis v. Lepis. The Lepis decision requires the person seeking the modification to show “changed circumstances” which would justify a modification. Lepis includes examples of changed circumstances as follows:
- An increase in the cost of living
- Increase or decrease in the supporting spouse’s income
- Illness, disability or infirmity arising after the original judgment
- The dependent spouse’s loss of a house or apartment
- The dependent spouse’s cohabitation with another
- Subsequent employment by the dependent spouse
- Changes in federal income tax law
The judge in the case will compare the facts as they were at the time the order was made with the state of facts as they are at the time of the proposed modification. Based on the arguments and evidence presented by both parties, the judge may decide to modify the domestic relations orders or leave them in place as is. The changed circumstances should be permanent, not temporary or anticipated, and it is important for the party seeking the modification to demonstrate this fact.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation for Modifications of Alimony or Child Support
The procedure to seek a modification of alimony or child support is to file a motion with the court which has jurisdiction over your divorce. If you oppose the change, you can oppose the motion by filing the appropriate papers. The court has the discretion to decide the motion on the papers presented or hold a hearing, where evidence and testimony may be presented and legal arguments made. Whether your motion will be decided on the basis of documents or a courtroom hearing, it is important to be represented by an experienced family law attorney who will take the time to understand your situation and present your case to the judge in the best possible light. In Union, New Jersey and surrounding areas, contact the Law Offices of John B. D’Alessandro for assistance.