Many divorced parties have language within their settlement agreements which indicates that the parties may (or in some cases may not) return to court in order to modify certain aspects of the settlement agreement. While there are areas of a divorce order or settlement agreement, which are always modifiable, such as custody and parenting time, other areas are more difficult to modify.
New Jersey Case law, as set forth in Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139 (1980), indicates that support is modifiable upon the showing of a significant change in circumstances which is permanent in nature. This does not mean that it is easy to modify support obligations. If, for example, the paying spouse loses his or her job and is no longer making an income comparable to the income earned at the time of divorce, the paying spouse does not automatically receive a reduction in the support obligation. Some parties choose to insert language into their agreements stating that alimony is non-modifiable despite Lepis. Many people choose to agree upon this “non-modifiable” language in an effort to avoid post-judgment litigation, or in exchange for other terms within the agreement. If this language is included it is that much harder to modify a support obligation. If you are experiencing a change in circumstances and you believe that your support obligation should be modified, you should consult an experienced attorney to assist you. Posted by Robyn E. Ross, Esq.