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Can Alimony Be Modified?

After a divorce settlement is reached, it is not necessarily set in stone. Someone’s life can drastically change in an instant, such as a job loss. If you are divorced and your financial situation has changed significantly, you may be able to have your alimony payments modified.

An alimony agreement has terms that specify whether or not it can be modified and when. In New Jersey, any type of alimony can be modified if either spouse’s finances have been altered substantially.

What Circumstances Qualify for Alimony Modifications?

Courts will not modify alimony agreements for minor adjustments, like a small wage reduction, but a large reduction in wages might qualify. Other circumstances could include the supported spouse experiencing a significant increase in income, remarrying or co-habiting with a new partner, retirement, or a disability or illness that prevents the paying ex-spouse from working.

When supported spouses enter into New Jersey civil unions or remarry, alimony can terminate. The receiving spouse is required to inform the paying spouse of the new circumstances immediately. Otherwise, they will be subject to lawyer fees and courts costs.

If you file a motion to modify your alimony, the court will look at several different factors, the first being the ability to pay. They will also consider the parties’ ages, physical and emotional health, and duration of the marriage. Other factors include the standard of living that existed during the marriage, both parties’ earning capacities, and how much each of them contributed financially to the marriage.

Changes like recently obtaining a college degree and coming into an inheritance may also be considered when courts decide on alimony modification requests. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, many divorcees were unable to make their alimony payments because they lost their jobs. Many of them qualified for financial assistance provided through local, state, or federal programs, which allowed them to keep paying their spousal support.

After filing a motion, the ex-spouses will enter the discovery phase. You will need to show proof of the new situation, such as paychecks, tax returns, a letter from your employer, and evidence of all your assets, expenses, and debts. Your ex-spouse will need to do the same thing, and the more evidence to support your case, the better.

Child support can also be modified, and the person seeking it also has to show proof of change in their circumstances. Other qualifying reasons might include a change in the child’s needs, updated custody schedules, a child’s college graduation, and the increased or decreased income of either parent.

Keep in mind that until an agreement is reached and all the papers are signed, the original alimony or child support agreement must be followed.

What Are the Different Types of Alimony?

In New Jersey, there are five different types of alimony:

  • Temporary: Temporary alimony, or pendente lite alimony, is the only kind offered in a pending divorce. Temporary alimony is when one spouse is financially dependent on the other, and they need help with paying their living expenses until the divorce is final. Courts may give this when a supported spouse requires time to become self-supporting.
  • Rehabilitative: Rehabilitative alimony is when a dependent spouse needs financial support while they are in school or job training that will lead to a career or financial independence.
  • Reimbursement: This is issued when one spouse supported the other financially during a time when that partner needed to advance their education, with the expectation that both would benefit from that education. For example, if one spouse went to college to pursue a master’s degree and the other worked full time to help pay for it, the spouse that paid might get rehabilitative alimony.
  • Open durational: The least common type is open durational, or “permanent,” alimony. This is seen more often in long-term marriages when dependent spouses cannot become self-supporting after the divorce. Even though it is called “permanent,” these agreements can also be modified in some cases.
  • Limited duration: Courts may give limited duration alimony when a supported spouse requires time to become self-supporting. However, this type of alimony has a predetermined ending date.

When an ex-spouse does not make their court-ordered payments, they may be subject to income-withholding orders, which will deduct money from their paychecks and send it to the recipient.

Is Alimony Taxable?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019 and eliminated the alimony tax deduction. If a divorce was finalized before then, the spouse receiving payments has to report and pay taxes on that support, and the paying spouse should be deducting their alimony payments.

Should I Use a Mediator?

If you have an amicable relationship with your ex-spouse, you might be able to speak to them and come to some kind of an agreement about reducing the alimony. Hiring a mediator could help. Mediators act as liaisons between the two parties, offering objective advice that can help the ex-spouses reach a fair solution. It may also be possible to reach a temporary agreement.

Marlton Divorce Lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. Are Experienced in All Matters of Divorce

If you need help with adjusting alimony, contact our skilled Marlton divorce lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. today. For an initial consultation, call us at 856-890-9400 or complete our online form. Located in Marlton, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, and Gloucester County.

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