When deciding on a spousal support amount, courts examine the paying spouse’s financial capacity and the dependent spouse’s needs. Moreover, courts acknowledge that there may be future changes in the parties’ lives that may affect these factors. Because of this, New Jersey allows the modification of alimony, which includes increasing, reducing or ending payments.
A substantial change in circumstances
Either party may request a modification of the alimony terms if there is a substantial change in circumstances. While justifiable changes usually involve a party’s economic status, nonfinancial changes may also warrant the courts to approve the modification. For instance, if the paying spouse’s income substantially decreases, they may request to reduce the support amount. On the other hand, if the dependent spouse remarries, the court may grant a motion to end payments since they already have another source of support.
Other changes may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Significant increase or decrease in income and benefits
- Job termination or retirement
- Business failure
- Disability or disease that affects earning capacity
- Increase in cost of living
The purpose of alimony is to support and maintain the lifestyle of the dependent spouse after the divorce. If the circumstances make it difficult to uphold this or the need for support is gone, then a modification may be necessary.
Modification is not automatic
Even if there are changes in circumstances that could warrant spousal support modifications, the court will not automatically apply the same. One of the parties must file a motion with the court that initially issued the order.
If one of the parties believes that circumstances call for an alimony modification, they must gather evidence of these substantial changes to sufficiently support their motion.