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Can I Modify My Alimony Obligation if I Lose My Job?

When you seek to modify your alimony obligation, the Court is going to analyze the facts of your case and apply it to the statute that specifically addresses the loss of your job. The Court will review your request under one of two provisions under the alimony statute when addressing the modification of alimony due to the loss of employment. Which one is used depends on whether or not you are self-employed.

If you are self-employed, under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(l), the Court will require an analysis that sets forth the economic and non-economic benefits you receive from your business and compare those economic and non-economic benefits to those that were in existence at the time of the entry of the order. This means that the Court is going to take a look at the circumstances at the time you entered into the alimony obligation and then look at your current circumstances.

However, if you are non-self-employed (like a salaried employee), the Court will analyze your case under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(k), which will include, but not be limited to the following factors:

  • Reasons for any loss of income;
  • Documented efforts to obtain replacement employment or to pursue an alternative occupation;
  • Good faith effort to find remunerative employment at any level and in any field;
  • Income of the person receiving the support, their circumstances, and their reasonable efforts to obtain employment in view of those circumstances and existing opportunities; and
  • Any changes in the financial circumstances of either party that occurred since the date of the order from which modification is sought;

Under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(k), you are required to wait 90 days from when you lose your employment before you can seek a modification of alimony from the Court. However, the statute allows you to seek relief retroactive to the date of the loss of employment. So, while you will need to wait 90 days to file with the Court, your alimony could be adjusted retroactively to the date of the job loss. There are also other remedies the Court could provide including but not limited to temporarily suspending support or directing a periodic review of support.

Whether or not you are self-employed and you have lost your job, it is very important to show the Court your efforts in finding another job while you are unemployed. If you are not providing information about your efforts in finding another job, the Court may think that you are not seeking a modification of your alimony obligation in good faith and will deny your application. It is important that you do attempt to search for alternate employment before seeking such a request from the Court.

If you have any questions regarding the modification of your alimony obligation and need an experienced legal team to guide you through the process, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, L.L.C. today.

By Kevin W. Ku, Esq.