Court Refuses To Terminate Alimony Due To Job Loss
- March 9, 2015
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In the 2015 case, Lodge v. Lodge, the Plaintiff appealed from a Court Order issued in 2012 that denied his Motion to terminate alimony but instead reduced his support obligation after he lost his job and became disabled. The court’s reasoning was based primarily upon the fact that the Defendant, the Plaintiff’s ex-wife, did not have any other income other than her alimony. In New Jersey, whether or not a party’s alimony obligation should be terminated, reduced, or modified in any way is based upon a claim and showing of changed circumstances. Larbig v. Larbig, 384 N.J. Super. 17, 21 (App Div. 2006). A Family Court judge is empowered with the ability to determine whether a change in circumstance has occurred based upon the individual facts of each case. Id. In this case, the Plaintiff argued that his circumstances had changed because he was laid off from his job and could not find another one, therefore his alimony obligation to his ex-wife should be terminated. Further, he added that since he was laid off he had become physically disabled. The Plaintiff also was receiving eighty (80) weeks of severance from his former employer. In 2011, he filed a Motion to terminate his alimony obligation based upon these changed circumstances. The Family Court recognized the Plaintiff’s financial difficulties but because the Defendant did not have any income beyond her alimony, in the interests of equity, the court temporarily reduced the Plaintiff’s obligation to a progressively decreasing amount beginning in 2012 and ending with $81 a week to be effective in 2014. This determination was based upon the factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b) and the fact that the parties would be receiving Social Security benefits. On Appeal, the Plaintiff argued that the Family Court’s reluctance to terminate his alimony obligation was inequitable. The Appellate Court affirmed the decision of the Family Court holding that the judge’s decision was supported by sufficient credible evidence and did not constitute an abuse of the court’s discretion. Harte v. Hand, 433 N.J. Super. 457, 461 (App. Div. 2013); Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. 394, 412 (1998); Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139 (1980). Although the laws regarding duration of alimony have recently been changed, many people will still be required to pay or receive spousal support for many years. This can be a substantial financial burden or benefit to you depending upon your circumstances. 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, child support, post-judgment modification , 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.