Law Lessons from STEIDBERGER F. AUSTIN VS. ELEANOR L. AUSTIN, App. Div., A-4178-11T4, December 6, 2012:
Courts are authorized by statute to modify alimony orders as circumstances may require. See N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.
Our well-established jurisprudence requires that “[t]he party seeking modification has the burden of showing such ‘changed circumstances’ as would warrant [such] relief . . . .” Lepis, supra, 83 N.J. at 157; see also Gonzalez-Posse v. Ricciardulli, 410 N.J. Super. 340, 350 (App. Div. 2009). That showing “must be made before a court will order discovery of an ex-spouse’s financial status.” Lepis, supra, 83 N.J. at 157.
When presented with a request for support modifications, a family court must consider “the dependent spouse’s needs, that spouse’s ability to contribute to the fulfillment of those needs, and the supporting spouse’s ability to maintain the dependent spouse at the former standard.” Id. at 152. . Id. at 151.
An illness presenting after the judgment of divorce is also a recognized changed circumstance. Lepis, supra, 83 N.J. at 151.
“Whether an alimony obligation should be modified based upon a claim of changed circumstances rests within a Family Part judge’s sound discretion.” Larbig v. Larbig, 384 N.J. Super. 17, 21 (App. Div. 2006).
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