Articles Tagged with modification

Ascertaining whether a supported spouse is cohabiting with a romantic partner in such a way that it 3e728f0b3d0e026b62a8cb4b38918e95-300x200constitutes a changed circumstance warranting a modification of alimony is often an issue that family courts have address.  In 2014, the New Jersey Legislature modified the alimony statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(n), to codify factors to determine whether a former spouse is cohabiting with a romantic partner such that an alimony award may be modified.  Those factors are:

(1) Intertwined finances such as joint bank accounts and other joint holdings or liabilities;

(2) Sharing or joint responsibility for living expenses;

It is not unusual for a parent to claim that they are paying too much in child support or for a parent to claim that they are not receiving enough child support.  In recent celebrity news, Robert8f5242a257ea4322359f564d02a4afc1-300x200 Kardashian is claiming the former.  According to an article in People Magazine, Mr. Kardashian claims that he can no longer afford his $20,000 per month child support payments to Blac Chyna, the mother of his child, and he is asking for a modification in his child support obligation. He also claims that his volatile relationship with Blac Chyna and the domestic violence complaint that she filed against him last year damaged his career and is preventing him from earning money.  Mr. Kardashian claims that his monthly income has been reduced from nearly $100,000 per month to less than $10,000 per month since their split as he is no longer appearing on episodes of Keeping up With the Kardashians. He claims, however, that Ms. Chyna’s monthly income has increased, and that her monthly income is nearly $60,000.00. Mr. Kardashian is asking that Ms. Chyna pay him child support of $2,864 per month on behalf of their daughter, Dream, with whom he shares equal custody and parenting time.  According to the article, Mr. Kardashian and Ms. Chyna are in the process of exchanging financial documents.

I have blogged before about calculating child support in high income cases, including a blog about another celebrity, Angelina Jolie, seeking “Meaningful Child Support” in which I pointed out that child support orders are modifiable, even in high income cases. The seminal case in New Jersey on modification of support obligations is Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139, 151 (1980), which allows for a potential modification of support based on “changed circumstances”.  Among the changed circumstances that can result in a review or modification of child support obligations is a decline in the income of the parent who is paying child support.  Conversely, the parent paying child support is entitled to a reconsideration of child support where there has been a significant change for the better in the circumstances of the parent receiving child support.  A change for the better or worse in one of the parent’s incomes is not the only kind of change in circumstance that a court can consider.  For instance, maturation of the child may result in a modification of support, some change in the need of the child, or some change in overnight parenting time arrangements.   The change in support should not, however, be only temporary.

Either parent can file a motion to increase or decrease child support.The party seeking to modify support (either to increase child support or decrease it) bears the burden of establishing a threshold (a “prima facie”) case of changed circumstances.  Lepis, 83 N.J. 139 (1980).  If the moving party does not establish at least a threshold burden, then the moving party will lose.  If that “prima facie” case of changed circumstance is presented, however, then the court will order the parties to exchange documents as to their financial circumstances and the needs of the child.  If there is a substantial issue of genuine fact that is in dispute, the court may order a hearing or trial, but will not do so in all cases.

In an unpublished decision in the matter of  T.M. v. R.M., A-4724-16T3 (App. Div. April 5, 2018), the Appellate Division considered a plaintiff’s appeal of the trial court’s denial of his motion to modify his alimony and child support obligations based on changed circumstances. At the time of the parties’ divorce, the plaintiff was earning a salary of $100,000 per year as a limited partner with OTR. In 2011, plaintiff lost his job and was unemployed for eighteen months. The plaintiff became employed again in 2012, earning $38,400 per year. Continue reading ›

In my last blog post I noted that effective September 1, 2017 a number of Court Rules directly impacting upon Family Part practice had been approved by our Supreme Court. I summarized and discussed a number of those Amendments. In this blog post , I will summarize and discuss two of the most significant and substantive new Rules which were adopted in this current cycle. Continue reading ›

In the case of Slawinski v. Nicholas, 448 N.J. Super. 25 (App. Div. 2016), the Appellate Division addressed a dispute involving parents who entered into a consent order establishing rights to grandparent visitation but then later wished to abrogate those rights. In this case, a motion was brought by the mother to terminate the visitation rights of the fraternal grandparents, claiming that the children were being harmed by the visits. The Appellate Division reversed the decision of trial court and stated that a parent could not unilaterally modify the consent order granting rights of grandparent visitation. The Court rejected the mother’s argument that, “[T]here is no burden that [mother] has to do anything other than say this is not working out, I tried.” The Appellate Division addressed grandparent visitation, as follows: Continue reading ›

Nothing is more precious to us than our children. The Supreme Court of the United States has established the right to know one’s children as a fundamental Constitutional right. In New Jersey the9-08-3-300x225 right to know and raise one’s children is firmly entrenched in statutory and case law.  In our mobile society the right to know one’s children post-divorce has often come in conflict with the post-divorce business or social needs of the parents.  New Jersey, like many North Eastern states, has a highly transient population who has come here for business or personal reasons and may find business or social needs more compelling than identity to the State as home. When parents of children feel compelled to move, there is often contention over the impact of such a move on custody of the children. Continue reading ›

I was at a social event recently. A woman attending that event, after learning that I was a divorce attorney, came up to me. She told me that her ex-husband had just filed court papers seeking to modify or terminate her alimony payments. With indignation in her voice she explained that “He can’t do that because I have permanent alimony!” It was obvious that this person had taken the word “permanent” literally, and believed that her alimony rights were forever immutable. She seemed genuinely shocked when I explained, without getting into the details of her case, that even “permanent” alimony may be modified or terminated upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. Continue reading ›

In Mills v. Mills, 447 N.J. Super. 79 (Ch. Div. 2016), the family court was confronted with the issue of whether the defendant (payor spouse) should receive a reduction in his alimony obligation3e728f0b3d0e026b62a8cb4b38918e95 upon the loss of long-term employment and his subsequent hire at a new job – at a significantly lower salary. Continue reading ›

In September 2014, the New Jersey Legislature amended this State’s statute on alimony.   Among thefile0001270953716 changes that the new alimony statute contains was a provision related to retirement.    The addition that the Legislature made to the alimony statute to include a provision for alimony is lengthy.  N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(j) now provides that alimony may be modified or terminated “upon the prospective or actual retirement of the obligor.”   Continue reading ›

We have written previously about issues of cohabitation and it’s impact on the right and obligation to receive and pay alimony. We have also written about the courts’ attitudes towards the file0001849487704enforcement of Property Settlement Agreements. On May 3, 2016 the Supreme Court of New Jersey in the matter of Quinn -v- Quinn, — NJ — (2016) [(A-5-14) (074411)], addressed the issue of enforcing terms of a Property Settlement Agreement involving the effect of cohabitation on provisions dealing with alimony in the matter. In this matter the parties, who were married in 1983, entered into a Property Settlement Agreement in 2006 providing that upon the Wife’s cohabitation, per case or statutory law, her alimony would terminate. Continue reading ›