A October 7 ruling from Ocean County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Jones held that recent amendments to New Jersey’s alimony statute which permitted reductions in payments in light of changed financial circumstances can in fact have retroactive application. Judge Jones opined that the harsh realities of current economic conditions and the interests of fairness and equity demand such an interpretation and that he found no evidence to suggest that the legislature intended to preclude it.
Judge declines restrictive statutory reading
In the case at issue, a husband and wife had divorced in 2013 following a 13-year marriage which produced two children. When their divorce agreement took affect, the husband had agreed to pay alimony of $330 per week for a limited duration and $200 weekly in child support. At that time, his earnings as a flooring company sales manager supported those amounts, though in early 2015, his position was eliminated, and he was forced to rely on a $35,000 severance package. Later that year, he obtained new employment, but at a notably lower rate of pay. Ultimately, the alimony and support payments became unsustainable, and he requested a reduction in the obligation based on his changed financial circumstances.
It was argued that the former husband should be permitted to take advantage of the 2-year-old amendments to New Jersey’s alimony statute which provided for reductions in support obligations when changed circumstances emerged, despite the fact that his divorce was final prior to the adoption of those changes. Judge Jones agreed, citing multiple important considerations, including whether the man’s decision to accept a lower paying position was reasonable and whether an adjustment in support amounts would be fair to both sides. Ultimately, he answered yes to both questions, stating that in today’s economic climate, it may be difficult if not impossible to replace a lost job with one offering equal or greater pay. He further held that if the legislature had desired to prohibit retroactive application of its amendments, it could have specifically stated that to be the case.
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At Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, we are committed to helping clients in New York and New Jersey understand the factors at play in determining an appropriate amount of alimony and/or child support. When circumstances shift significantly and support modifications are in order, we stand prepared to conduct a comprehensive assessment and advocate aggressively for the interests of those we represent.
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Despite the emotional stress and familial upheaval caused by divorce, with the assistance of a skilled matrimonial attorney, it is possible to protect your well-being and that of your children. To learn more about how the attorneys of KGG can assist with your divorce or support payment controversy in New York or New Jersey, we invite you to contact us at (888) 624-4916.