New Jersey’s standard for modification of an alimony award is based upon a change of financial circumstances such that a modification of the award is warranted. More importantly, the financial change of circumstances cannot be of a temporary nature, but must be of a permanent nature. The permanent change standard is a very high hurdle, discussed and reiterated in the recent New Jersey Appellate Court’s decision of Grier v. Grier.
The Grier case, in relevant part, deals with what the Court determines to be a financial change of circumstances that is of a more temporary nature, so modification warranted, the matter not even requiring a hearing in the lower court. A hearing is only required when the plaintiff demonstrates a prima facie case in his pleadings. This means that Mr. Grier had to provide enough information, sufficient allegations, to support his claim to modify support based on a permanent change of circumstances. The lower court found he provided inadequate support of his claim, as did the Appellate Court, because the change of circumstances he pled was temporary.
In short, Mr. Grier’s claimed that he had a reduction of income since entry of the order for alimony because he lost a client, and wanted the court to reduce his alimony obligation based upon that financial change. The lower court as well as the Appellate Court simply did not see the loss of one client as a permanent event, assessing that his income could increase again at any time, thereby making the income reduction temporary. In addition, Mr. Grier had filed bankruptcy in 2014, greatly reducing his debt, which the court stated he “admitted.” Continue reading