Whenever alimony is awarded by a New Jersey court, it is because the court has considered the factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 and have determined that one of the ex-spouses is in need of being awarded alimony. Oftentimes, the decision to award alimony turns on whether there is a substantial gap in earning capacities or earning potentials between the ex-spouses. If there is a substantial gap, then New Jersey courts tend to make awards of alimony. However, if the ex-spouses’ earning capacities or earning potentials are about the same, then New Jersey courts tend to decline to make an award of alimony. Accordingly, when you are ordered to make alimony payments to your ex-spouse, it is often because the court, in reviewing your income and comparing it with that of your ex-spouse, determines that you can afford the payments and that your ex-spouse needs them to sustain himself or herself. If you are required to make alimony payments to your ex-spouse, here are some things you can do to ensure that you are not making overpayments.
Request a Modification of the Alimony Order Due to Changed Circumstances
Sometimes, life happens and you may lose your job or you accrue significant medical expenses due to disease or injury. If you undergo a circumstance that significantly and adversely impacts your ability to make the court-ordered alimony payments, you can file a motion to modify the alimony order to request that the amount of the payments be decreased or ceased altogether. While New Jersey courts exercise considerable discretion in determining whether to grant or deny a modification, courts are more likely to grant a modification if the payor presents it with proof that his or her financial circumstances have been adversely affected by some unforeseeable circumstance.
Similarly, in order to avoid overpaying your ex-spouse, you can also file a motion to modify an alimony order if you can prove that the payee ex-spouse’s circumstances have changed for the better. This may include proving that the payee ex-spouse has secured employment that has increased her earning capacity or potential.
Keeping Track of When your Ex-Spouse Remarries
According to New Jersey law, alimony payments are to cease once the payee ex-spouse has either started to cohabitate with a significant other or remarries. However, just because one of the two scenarios occurs, does not mean that the courts are aware of it. If you find out that your ex-spouse has started cohabitating with a significant other or has remarried, you should bring it to the court’s attention so that your payment obligation will end.
Inform the Court when you Reach the Age of 67
Due to recent changes in New Jersey law, those required to pay alimony may request the court to modify or cease alimony payments once the payor reaches the federal age of retirement, 67 years old. While it is not guaranteed that a court will grant you the modification, it is worth trying when you reach the age of 67 so as to ensure that you are not overpaying your ex-spouse.
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