The Basics of Modifiable and Non-Modifiable Alimony

Modifiable Alimony vs. Non-Modifiable

If you find yourself in a position either to pay or to receive alimony in a proposed New Jersey divorce settlement, you’ll want to understand the difference between a modifiable scheme of payments and a non-modifiable one.

Alimony Payment Scheme

In very basic terms, an alimony payment scheme that is modifiable means that both the amount and the term of those alimony payments may be changed by the court, upon successful petition to the court by either party to the divorce. Circumstances that would lead one party to petition the court to adjust the alimony payment or its duration are easy to imagine. For example, if the party receiving alimony inherits a large sum of money (this could result in, for example, either a diminution of the paying party’s obligation, or in a discontinuance of the alimony all together); or, perhaps, where the party paying alimony receives a promotion and a large increase in salary.

Modifiable Alimony Payment Scheme

The virtue of the modifiable alimony payment scheme is it contemplates that circumstances extant at the time the court enters a divorce order, and on which the alimony provisions of that order are based, may meaningfully change with respect to one or both of the parties to that order. Of course, the modifiable alimony scheme also, and by design, embeds a measure of uncertainty into the divorce agreement, which carries the potential to impose greater costs, or lesser benefits, than were bargained for by a given party. There is a potential psychological cost for some parties. The fact that the modifiable alimony payment scheme carries with it the potential that the divorce could be revisited, denies the parties the closure they hoped the divorce order would provide (i.e. serving as a catharsis and allowing them to move forward with their lives without looking back).

Non Modifiable Alimony Payment Scheme

A non-modifiable alimony payment scheme is one that is set forth in a proposed divorce agreement, and which is not subject to subsequent alteration, whatever the changed circumstances of the parties after that divorce order is entered by the court. The virtue of the non-modifiable alimony payment scheme is that each party will know exactly what their liability or income is. That level of certainty allows for concrete planning in light of the prescribed alimony scheme. The downside, of course, is that parties may, because of changed circumstances that come into being after the divorce order is entered, find themselves meaningfully disadvantaged by their inability to have the alimony scheme altered. For example, where the party receiving alimony remarries (traditionally a circumstance that would cut-off alimony payments), and the paying party, because subject to a non-modifiable alimony payment scheme, must continue alimony payments for the term and amount outlined in the divorce order.

Which Scheme Suits You?

Which alimony scheme is right for you depends entirely on the facts and circumstances unique to your divorce, and your life. If you are about to go through a divorce in New Jersey, or if you are currently going through a divorce, it is important you have the advice of a competent attorney who understands the details of alimony payment schemes, and who understands your specific needs.

Contact an Experienced Alimony Divorce Lawyer

Vincent C. DeLuca of Villani & DeLuca, P.C., is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Attorney. Mr. DeLuca is one of a limited number of attorneys to hold the prestigious certification of Matrimonial Attorney in New Jersey. Mr. DeLuca, whose practice is devoted to Family Law in Ocean County and Monmouth County, is one of only five certified Matrimonial Attorneys on the Roster of Mediators for Economic Aspects of Family Law in Ocean County, New Jersey. Call 732-965-3350 today for a free initial consultation.

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