Modification of Existing Alimony Obligations
Experienced Representation for Modifying Alimony Obligations
Existing alimony and spousal support obligations payments can be increased, decreased, or terminated if either the party receiving alimony or the party paying alimony experiences a significant change in circumstances that warrants a modification of support.
The party seeking the modification of support, bears the burden of showing that there are permanent and substantial change in circumstances that warrants the modification of support.
In New Jersey, the seminal case on this issue is Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139 (1980). Such examples of changed circumstances, as set forth in Lepis, include (1) an increase in the cost of living, (2) an increase or decrease in the supporting spouse’s income, (3) an illness or disability arising after the original judgment, (4) a dependent spouse’s loss of a house or apartment, (5) subsequent employment by the dependent spouse, and (6) changes in the tax laws. Id. at 151. However, this is not an exhaustive list. Whether a significant change in circumstances has occurred is fact sensitive and will depend on the circumstances at the time the alimony obligation was established versus the circumstances existing now. If a party can establish that there has been changed circumstances, a court may order financial discovery and hold a hearing to determine how much, if any, the existing support obligation should be modified.
Whether a client is seeking to modify an existing alimony obligation or defending against a modification application, the attorneys at Ulrichsen Rosen & Freed LLC can provide experienced representation and assist clients to evaluate how much, if any, support should be modified.
Lawyers Who Understand the Impact of Retirement on Alimony
On September 10, 2014, the New Jersey Legislature amended the alimony statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2, to allow a party to terminate or modify his or her spousal support obligation based upon an actual or prospective retirement.
The statute has different standards of review for applications for modification or termination of alimony obligations established before and after the amendments on September 10, 2014.
For obligations established after September 10, 2014, there is a rebuttable presumption that the alimony obligation shall terminate upon the paying spouse’s attainment of full retirement age, with the burden of proof shifting to the recipient to demonstrate why alimony should not terminate or be reduced.
For alimony obligations established prior to the 2014 amendments, the paying spouse’s attainment of full retirement age shall be deemed a good faith retirement age. However, the burden of proof remains with the paying spouse to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the prospective or actual retirement is reasonable and made in good faith, and that the spouse receiving alimony had the ability to adequately save for retirement.
In both cases, full retirement age is defined as the age at which a person is eligible to receive full Social Security retirement benefits.
The attorneys at Ulrichsen Rosen & Freed LLC have experience litigating and mediating issues related to retirement. If you are considering retiring and seeking to modify your existing alimony obligation or your ex-spouse is seeking a modify their alimony obligation based upon an actual or prospective retirement, the attorneys can provide experienced representation.
Experienced Counsel for Issues of Cohabitation
Cohabitation is a basis to modify, suspend or terminate an existing alimony or spousal support obligation.
On September 10, 2014, the New Jersey Legislature amended the alimony statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2, to more broadly define cohabitation and outline the basis to suspend or terminate alimony. However, the amendments to the statute were not retroactive. As such, there are two different standards for defining cohabitation with respect to alimony obligations established before and after the amendments on September 10, 2014.
In both instances, cohabitation is defined as “a mutually supportive, intimate personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken duties and privileges that are commonly associated with marriage.” However, for alimony obligations established prior to September 10, 2014, the parties must reside together to establish a prima facie showing of cohabitation.
For alimony obligations established after September 10, 2014 to the parties do not need to reside together establish a prima facie showing of cohabitation.
In both instances, when assessing whether cohabitation is occurring, a court will consider the following: (1) Intertwined finances such as joint bank account and other joint holdings or liabilities, (2) Sharing or joint responsibility for living expenses; (3) Recognition of the relationship in the couple’s social and family circle; (4) Living together, the frequency of contact, the duration of the relationship, and other indicators of mutually supportive intimate personal relationship; (5) Sharing household chores; (6) Whether the recipient of alimony has received an enforceable promise of support from another person; (7) and all other relevant evidence.
The attorneys at Ulrichsen Rosen & Freed have experience litigating and defending issues related to cohabitation. If you are considering filing an application to modify your divorce agreement or your ex-spouse the attorneys can provide experienced guidance. We provide representation for all cohabitation related issues to clients living throughout New Jersey including Mercer County, Somerset County, Hunterdon County, Middlesex County and Burlington County.
To learn more, schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer from our law firm. Contact us at 609-730-3850, or contact us online.