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Court Denies Man’s Request To Lower Alimony For Temporary Change in Circumstances

Court Denies Man’s Request To Lower Alimony For Temporary Change in Circumstances

In the recent Appellate Division case, Lax v. Lax, a post-judgment matrimonial matter, the Plaintiff, David Lax, appealed from a 2013 Family Court Order that denied his Motion to reduce his alimony obligation. The Appellate Division affirmed the decision of the lower court. The parties in this case were married in 1986 and obtained a legal divorce in 2008. Their final divorce judgment incorporated a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) in which the Plaintiff agreed to pay the Defendant permanent alimony in the amount of $7,000 per month. In 2011, the Plaintiff filed an application with the court to modify his spousal support obligation. A series of Cross-Motions followed that resulted in a plenary hearing in which the Plaintiff sought to prove changed circumstances based upon a change in his financial situation and the Defendant’s co-habitation with another person. The judge determined that no co-habitation existed but that the Plaintiff had proven a change in circumstances warranting a modification of his obligation. Subsequently, the Plaintiff’s alimony obligation was reduced to $2,000 a month. Following this ruling, the Defendant filed a Motion for reconsideration and the Plaintiff once again filed for another downward modification of his obligation. This time the court denied his request for another modification and he appealed. The Appellate Court held that its review of the Family Court’s decision is limited stating that “Whether an alimony obligation should be modified based upon a claim of changed circumstances rests within a Family Part judge’s sound discretion.” Larbig v. Larbig, 384 N.J. Super. 17, 21 (App. Div. 2006). Further, it stated that “Courts have consistently rejected requests for modification based on circumstances which are only temporary.” Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139, 145-46 (1980). In this case, the Plaintiff filed his second Motion for another downward modification of his spousal support obligation only three (3) months after the previous order modifying his obligation was issued. The Family Court properly found that there was no evidence in the record to prove that the Plaintiff’s financial situation was anything other than temporary. The Appellate Division agreed with the decision of the Family Court and for the aforementioned reasons affirmed the lower court’s denial of the Plaintiff’s request. If you anticipate that you may want to petition the court for a post-judgment modification of your alimony obligation it is imperative that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about alimony, divorce, child support, equitable distribution, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way is intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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