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Alimony is a financial payment that one spouse may owe the other after a divorce or separation. The higher-earning spouse usually pays the lower-earning spouse in monthly installments. Depending on the circumstances of your relationship, you may pay alimony for the duration of your separation, until your ex-spouse can financially support themselves, or for an indefinite amount of time. If you have been paying alimony but can no longer afford to continue supporting your ex-spouse, a Sussex County, Sparta post-judgment modification attorney can help you navigate the process of requesting an alteration to your payment arrangement.

How is Alimony Calculated?

If you and your spouse decide to go through litigation, a New Jersey court will determine an alimony arrangement. They will ask that each spouse provide certain information so they can evaluate the status of both party’s financial situation, health status, and more. Some considerations a court may keep in mind include:

  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The income of each spouse
  • The earning capacity of each spouse
  • The health and ages of each spouse
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • If they have children, their ages, and child custody
  • If one spouse made sacrifices during the marriage at the expense of their education or career (e.g. leaving the workforce to care for children, financially supporting their spouse while they further their education, etc.)

What Should I Do if I Can’t Afford Alimony?

Spousal support calculations are designed to benefit the lower-earning spouse while designating a fair percentage of the paying spouse’s income to alimony. In general, you should be able to afford your monthly payments. However, circumstances can change. If you can’t afford alimony any longer, you should not stop your payments. Keep in mind that your divorce agreement, including alimony, is legally binding and to neglect to abide by your contract could result in you being held in contempt of court.

If your employment situation has changed or you have acquired new financial responsibilities that make it impossible for you to keep up with your alimony payments, contact your attorney. They can evaluate your new situation and help you with the next steps. You and your lawyer can gather updated information and documents proving your current financial status and petition the court for a modification of the alimony agreement.

The court may agree to a modification if you can prove that your lower income or increased expenses no longer allow you to afford the monthly payments. They may decide to decrease the amount or frequency that you pay.

If you were to stop payments on your own you would be brought in front of a New Jersey state judge and fined daily until you pay the alimony owed. Your wages could be garnished to collect the payment and you could end up losing your license or property, or even have to serve time in prison. If you cannot afford alimony, avoid jail time and extensive fines by reaching out to your lawyer and being honest with your ex and the court.