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Maverick, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 6391
Experience:  20 years of professional experience
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NJ - My exhusband is applying by court motion to reduce my

Customer Question

NJ - My exhusband is applying by court motion to reduce my alimony and child support due to what he calls reduced income. His income is commission based and has always fluctuated. In our MSA, he is allowed to revisit his alimony obligation if there is
a change of circumstances. Which, I believe, there is not. It's just a down year of commission. He also wants me to pay his attorney fees. Please advise! Thanks
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Maverick replied 2 years ago.
Can you please state your specific legal question so we know what type of answer you are?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Can he apply to reduce alimony and expect me to pay his attorney fees?
Expert:  Maverick replied 2 years ago.
When the legislature enacted N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, they specifically noted that support obligations may be “revised and altered by the court from time to time as the circumstances may require.”
IN INTERPRETING THIS LAW, the New Jersey Supreme Court provided the procedure for modification of support orders. First, the moving party bears the burden of showing that there are permanent and substantial changed circumstances. Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139 (1980).
So, you may have a valid argument that there are no permanent and substantial changed circumstances justifying a modification. But this would need to be flushed out as the what is the true factual reasons why his commissions have gone down and whether such changes are permanent or temporary.
For example, you may be able to object to his trying to modify it downwards on the basis of a drop in industry sales without the use of expert witness testimony such as from an economist or an industry professional.
Second, after he has made a prima facie showing of changed circumstances,
the court may order financial disclosure of both parties to
allow the court to make an informed decision as to “what, in
light of all the [circumstances] is equitable and fair.” Smith v. Smith, 72 N.J. 350 (1977).
In New Jersey family court proceeding attorney’s fees are available to one party or the other. The judge’s ability to award counsel fees is governed by Rule 5:3-5(c) and Rule 4:42-9.
Pursuant to Rule 5:3-5(c), there are multiple factors that a judge must consider when determining whether to award counsel fees. One factor that is very important is the reasonableness and good faith positions advanced by the parties. At the link below you will find a NJ case where the father had to pay the mother's legal fees for filing a motion to lower support that was not done in good faith.
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