You and your former spouse may have made an alimony agreement as part of your divorce. Yet, you might feel these monthly payments have become burdensome to make. Parting with a large portion of your monthly income can be financially devastating. If you need to modify or terminate your alimony obligation, it’s important to know when and how you can do so.
Reasons for Adjusting Your Obligation
To modify or terminate your alimony obligation, you must prove that you have experienced a significant change in circumstances. Your former spouse’s circumstances might have changed, too. But the burden of proof is often on the party motioning for modification. Yet, your former spouse may have remarried. Or, you may have reached full retirement age, which is between 65 and 67, depending on your birth year. In these cases, any alimony payments you make will automatically terminate. Otherwise, you can motion to adjust your alimony obligation if:
- You experienced a substantial increase in living expenses
- You lost your job or experienced an involuntary decrease in income
- You have developed health problems that impact your earning ability
- Your business failed
- Your former spouse’s income has increased
- Your former spouse started cohabiting with a new partner
Providing for Changes in Circumstance
When motioning to modify or terminate your alimony obligation, you must provide evidence that your circumstances have changed. In doing so, you will likely have to exchange pay stubs, tax returns and a case information statement with your former spouse. If these documents show that the changes to your – or their – circumstances are major, a plenary hearing may be ordered to determine whether an adjustment to your alimony obligation is necessary. Based on any testimony and evidence presented at this hearing, the court will decide whether to modify or terminate it.
While modifying or terminating your alimony obligation is possible in New Jersey, you must understand when it is appropriate to do so. An attorney with family law experience can help you determine whether your circumstances require it.