Modifying Alimony: When Your Needs Change

Modifying Alimony: When Your Needs ChangeModifying Alimony

Alimony is money paid to a dependent spouse during and after a marriage. Alimony in New Jersey also called spousal support or spousal maintenance, is based on financial need, not on income alone, as child support is. If a spouse does not have a financial need, he or she could not ask for alimony.

In many divorces, however, one spouse earned less income during the marriage and thus has a need for financial support after the divorce. When the receiving spouse’s financial needs change, he or she might be able to petition the court for an alimony modification. But the rules on modifying alimony are vague, so we’ll go over some of the particular circumstances under which New Jersey alimony can be modified.

Modifying Alimony in New Jersey

Generally, you can ask the court to modify alimony if there has been a significant change in circumstances. Alimony modification cases are fact-dependent. The spouse seeking the modification bears the burden of proof. He or she must demonstrate the change in circumstances and its effects. For example, if a spouse were seeking an increase in alimony payments due to a significant illness, he or she would have to show the court proof of the change in financial circumstances.

More commonly, the paying spouse seeks modifications due to the loss of a job, reduction in income, cohabitation of the receiving spouse, or retirement. Crucially, the spouse seeking the modification must also demonstrate the change in circumstances was involuntary, meaning it was not in their control.

Getting Your Needs Met

It is often difficult to obtain an increase in alimony payments post-judgment. The spouse filing the motion must demonstrate an involuntary change in circumstances significant enough to change his or her financial needs. A good example of a situation where a spouse may petition the court to increase alimony is if the spouse suffered an illness after the divorce that created a greater financial need. Even then, the petitioning spouse bears the burden of proof.

It’s also important to note that the court cannot modify reimbursement alimony, which compensates the payee spouse for contributions to the paying spouse’s education or career advancements. And the paying spouse can typically ask the court to terminate alimony upon reaching full retirement age.

Preparing to Argue Your Cas

If you are seeking an alimony modification due to a change in financial needs, it’s essential you work closely with an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney. You will need an attorney to present a compelling argument for your request, complete with evidence. What many spouses don’t realize is the paying spouse can challenge the motion and may even fight back by hiring his or her own attorney. It’s best to have a skilled attorney on your side from the start to minimize the chance of this happening.

 Do you need to modify alimony in New Jersey? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled divorce attorneys can help you navigate the modification process from start to finish. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.


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