The simple answer is YES! Alimony is always reviewable based upon a substantial change in either party’s financial circumstances. However, in general terms, we usually see the payor spouse (the one paying the alimony) file these applications. As an example, if the payor spouse loses his/her job or suddenly becomes seriously ill, then that spouse may file an application with the Court to review his/her support obligation. (It should be noted that this analysis may be different if the parties specifically agreed in their Marital Settlement Agreement that alimony is non-modifiable in nature, i.e. that they do not want the Court to review alimony now or ever in the future.)
However, even if the payor spouse proves that they lost his/her employment, the payor spouse will still need to prove that he/she has done everything in their power to search for alternate employment, i.e. they are not voluntarily unemployed and that their application is made in good faith. The person who files the application (usually the payor spouse) has the burden to prove that there has been a substantial change in his/her finances.
If the Court believes that the payor spouse has suffered a substantial financial change in his/her circumstances, then the matter will be scheduled for a hearing to take a closer look at the change, as well as the parties’ respective finances. At this juncture in the case, it is likely that the Judge will order the supported spouse to provide his/her financial information to the Court for review.
At the hearing the Court may terminate the payor spouse’s alimony obligation or the Judge may modify the alimony payment, i.e. reduce the payment. The Court also has the option to deny the application entirely and leave the alimony award unchanged.
The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.
Shari B. Veisblatt represents clients in all aspects and stages of matrimonial litigation, including divorce and separation, custody, child and spousal support, equitable distribution and alimony and domestic abuse. She works out of the firm’s Cherry Hill, NJ office and can be reached at 856-857-1431 or at Shari.Veisblatt@obermayer.com.