Every divorce case is different, and it helps to be prepared.  You can rely on the financial skills and knowledge you gained from your CFL Designation to balance everything out for successful settlements.  

As in the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division case of Beden v. Beden, sometimes the solution is clear.  The ex-husband requested reduced alimony payments because of a job loss.  But was it enough of a change in circumstance to justify a decrease?


The Issue

The couple married in 1980 and had three children.  Their property settlement agreement in 2010 called for the husband, Lance, to pay his wife, Mary, $800 weekly in alimony based on Lance’s income of about $136,000 per year.

By 2014, Mary went to court to enforce Mr. Beden’s alimony obligation, and he paid her a lump sum of $4,800.  He also had to list their marital home for sale. They signed an alimony order showing their agreement to those conditions.

In April 2015, the ex-wife returned to court to enforce the alimony agreement because Lance had failed to comply with the prior order.  He asked that his alimony and health and life insurance obligations be recalculated back to March 2014 when he claimed he was laid off.

Two months later, a different judge concluded Lance hadn’t made a “good faith” effort to find a new job and hadn’t established a case of changed circumstances.  Over 15 months, Lance had applied for seven jobs, posted his resume online, and attended one job fair.

In his appeal, Mr. Beden argued that he had established a change in circumstances and his loss of earnings were significant and not temporary.  He believed that his layoff entitled him to relief from alimony payments. According to the law, the person who requests changes to alimony payments must show “changed circumstances” — temporary circumstances aren’t enough.

The Decision

The Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division decided not to modify the alimony agreement.  Lance would need to comply with it.

As the ruling noted, “To vacate a trial court’s findings in a proceeding modifying alimony, an appellate court must conclude that the trial court clearly abused its discretion, failed to consider ‘all of the controlling legal principles,’ or it must otherwise be ‘well satisfied that the finding[s] [were] mistaken,’ or that the determination could not ‘reasonably have been reached on sufficient credible evidence present in the record after consideration of the proofs as a whole.’”

The judge didn’t find Mr. Beden’s job loss to be a change in circumstance since the alimony agreement in October 2014, stating that his claim that ‘there are no jobs for a 59-year-old individual with a [c]ollege level degree in [e]lectrical [e]ngineering from 1978’ finds no support in the record.”

Complex trial matters like these require solid financial skills.  Get all the knowledge you need to set you apart from other family law practitioners with a CFL™ Designation.  Request our free information packet today!