New Jersey Alimony Reform And The Loss Of Employment Or Income

By Peter Van Aulen, Esq.

NJ Alimony reform was signed into law on September 10, 2014 by Governor Christie. Said law made changes in regard to making an application to modify an alimony obligation due to loss of employment or reduction of income. The statute states when the change of circumstance occurred due to job loss, the length of time a payor is unemployed or has an involuntary reduction of income shall not be the only factor considered by the court. According to the statute when a non-self employed party requests modification of his or her alimony obligation, the court shall consider all of the following enumerated factors:

  • Causes for the payor’s loss of income;
  • The payor’s documented efforts to secure replacement employment or to pursue a different career when there has been a loss of employment;
  • Whether the payor is making a good faith endeavor to obtain new employment when there has been a loss of employment;
  • The payee’s income, payee’s circumstances, and payee’s reasonable effort to find employment in view of those circumstances;
  • The parties’ health and its impact on their ability to secure employment;
  • Whether the payor received any severance compensation or award as a result of his or her loss of employment;
  • Whether any changes in either party’s financial circumstances occurred since the date of the order granting the alimony award;
  • The reasons for any change in either the payor or payee’s financial situation since the date of the alimony order, but not limited to a review of the extent to which either party’s financial situation at the time of the application are due to the improved earnings or financial benefits derived from any resource since the date of said order;
  • Whether a temporary solution should be created to provide modification of the support award and the terms of any said adjustment, during the payor’s continuing job search;
  • Any other factor the court deems relevant.

Under New Jersey alimony reform, a payor can file an application for modification after he or she has not been able to return or find employment at prior income levels for a period of 90 days. This is actually a major change in the law. Before the said reform, case law held that temporary loss of income was not a basis to modify a support obligation. Now a payor only has to wait 90 days to make his or her application. Further, under the statute the court has the discretion to order any relief granted retroactive to the date of job loss or reduction of income.

When the payor is self employed and files an application to modify an alimony obligation due to reduction of income, said application must include an analysis of the “economic and non-economic benefits” he or she receives from the business that compares these “economic and non-economic benefits” to those that existed at the time the alimony obligation sought to be modified was established.

Also,under NJ alimony reform the court discretion in fashioning a temporary remedy for applications to modify due to loss of employment or reduction of income. The court can temporarily suspend support, order a reduction in support on terms, order that support be paid in some amount from assets pending future proceedings, order a periodic review, or “enter any order the court finds appropriate to assure fairness and equity to both parties.”

If you have questions concerning the modification of an alimony obligation due to loss of employment or reduction of income, call Peter Van Aulen (201) 845-7400 today for a free 30 minute in office consultation.

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