Alimony & Spousal Support

Family Part’s Order To Lower Alimony Was Not Supported By The Court Record

In the family law, alimony case of Court v. Court, App. Div. 20-2-8340, the defendant Howard Court appealed from a Family Part’s order denying his motion to terminate his alimony obligation and denying his request to vacate his alimony arrears. The court found that defendant provided the court with sufficient evidence of his health problems to show he lost life insurance and is unable to be gainfully employed. Moreover, the court noted defendant’s sole income of Social Security is not enough for him to continue to pay his bills, pay alimony, and pay his arrears. Nonetheless, the court declined to terminate alimony or vacate the arrears. The court lowered defendant’s alimony obligation from $750 per week to $400 per week, allocating $50 towards alimony and $350 towards arrears. The appellate panel found that the court failed to place adequate findings of fact on the record. The court failed to directly address the issue of defendant’s retirement. The court lowered defendant’s alimony payment form $750 to $400 per week without offering a reason for the amount chosen. In reducing defendant’s payment, the court recognized his annual income of $27,010 was not enough to cover his expenses and alimony. At the same time, the judge ordered defendant to pay $20,640 of his $27,010 income leaving him only $503 per month for all his expenses. No analysis was provided supporting the basis of defendant’s ability to pay this amount, despite the findings defendant was unlikely to become reemployed given his advanced age and deteriorated health. Further, the judge ignored defendant’s right to retire in good faith at age 72. The appellate panel reversed and remanded for a plenary hearing.

Reference: Case & Analysis, New Jersey Law Journal, 221 N.J.L.J. 1630 (November 16, 2015)

Filed Under: Alimony; Family Law

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