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Significant Drop In Salary May Constitute “Changed Circumstances” For Alimony Modification

Significant Drop In Salary May Constitute “Changed Circumstances” For Alimony Modification

In a recent New Jersey case, Jones v. Jones, the New Jersey Appellate Division reversed a lower court’s dismissal for a hearing to terminate or modify permanent alimony based upon a significant long-term change of circumstances. The parties involved in the case were divorced in 2009. As part of their divorce judgment a settlement agreement was executed that defined the permanent alimony amount that the defendant was to pay his ex-wife, the plaintiff, based upon each party’s salary at that time. In 2012, the defendant submitted a motion to the court to modify the amount of alimony he agreed to pay his wife because he had suffered a 42% reduction in his salary. The defendant moved before the court to modify his existing alimony obligation based on this significant changed circumstance in his financial situation. The plaintiff opposed his motion and cross-moved for other relief. The NJ Superior Court judge denied both parties’ motions without conducting an evidentiary hearing to address the defendant’s claim of changed circumstances. On appeal, the New Jersey Appellate Division reversed the lower court’s ruling and remanded the matter to the trial court for a hearing to consider whether or not his reduction in salary constituted a change in circumstances that would warrant a downward modification in alimony. In its holding, the Appellate Court noted that his allegations of a 42% reduction in salary constituted prima facie evidence (enough evidence on the face of the allegation) to entitle the defendant to an evidentiary hearing to determine if his spousal support obligation to defendant should be terminated or reduced. If you anticipate that you will become involved in a dispute over alimony or other issues regarding your divorce it is imperative that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about posst-judgment modification, alimony, divorce, custody child support or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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