What are my chances of success if I file a motion for a reduction of my child support and/or alimony?
The economy is terrible in New Jersey. Businesses are leaving the Garden State in droves. What happened to all of the factories in New Jersey? Maybe globalization was not such a great idea? What is the use of purchasing cheaper products if all of the blue collar workers are out of work. Unemployment is now around 10%! As a result of these terrible times, the family courts are now being deluged with endless motions that request a reduction of child support and/or alimony.
Given these changed economic times, the family courts are prone now more than ever to grant an application to reduce support payments. However, any Lepis motions must be prepared diligently and completely. You can't simply serve up a "slop" motion and expect a judge to reduce your child support and/or alimony.
The family courts carefully review each and every fact in any Lepis motion. At least most judges do. All W-2, pay-stubs, tax returns, unemployment records, termination letters, job search info are carefully reviewed. If the court is satisfied that you are truly experiencing hard times, then you will have proven that there is a prima facie case for a "change of circumstances." Thereafter, the court will either immediately grant you a child support/alimony reduction. Alternatively, the court will schedule a plenary hearing.
In summary, it is very important that all Lepis motions are supported with a detailed set of facts that carefully explain why the payor is unable to keep up with his support payments. All Lepis motions must be backed up concrete proofs. Moreover, the motion should also be accompanied with a reasonable plan as to how the payor will be able to get "back on track," and be able to once again make payments on a regular basis.
What are some helpful hints that you could provide me to bolster my chances to reduce my child support/alimony payments?
Provide a detailed breakdown of the reduction of your income.
It is very important that you provide the court with a detailed breakdown as to why your income has been reduced. You should provide a written verification that you have been demoted, were laid off, or that you salary was reduced. The judges are not mind readers. You have to attach all of this critical information as an exhibit(s) in your motion.
The more concrete the proofs that you provide to the court to justify your reduced in income, then the more likely that you will obtain some relief in your motion. In summary, if you file a Lepis motion and if you don't have any exhibits to document your hard luck, then you motion will most likely be a loser.
You should explain to the court how you have tried to find another job and/or a better paying job.
In most Lepis cases, the judges will carefully question the payor as to what steps he has taken to obtain another job, or to obtain a better paying job. The judges will be more reasonable with litigants who can prove to them that they have been "pounding the payment" and trying to find work. If the payor is simply "hanging out at the Go Go bar" then the motion will probably get tossed.
In any Lepis motions wherein the payor has been terminated, then the payor should provide a list of all employers to which he has applied since he has lost his job. Any copies of any job applications should also be attached as exhibits to the motion. Moreover, the payor should also attach all rejection letters from potential employers, e-mail searches, head hunter applications, and any other documentation that proves that the payor has been seriously looking for work.
Small business owners should explain why their business is down.
In these hard times, many small business have suffered or have gone out of business. Naturally, many small business owners are now banging down the doors of their local county court house to request a reduction of child support and/or alimony. Any small business owner who has suffered from decreased business should also carefully explain to the court why business stinks. The applicant should attach reports from the company's accountant that verifies same. Moreover, the payor should also inform the court what steps have been taken to juice up business via any type of advertisement, solicitation, and business incentives.
The payor must demonstrate to the court how his own lifestyle has suffered.
A payor who files a Lepis motion must also explain to the court how his own lifestyle has suffered by his loss of income.
Has the payor been forced to sell or list his home for sale. Has the payor been forced to give up a family vacation? Is the big day out a day now a day at beach at Keansburg? Is the payor now brown bagging it for lunch? Is the payor's credit card balances going through the roof. Is the payor driving a Hyundai now that he is financially strapped? Get the point! Don't just cry the blues to the judge. You should explain to the court that you are cutting back on your lifestyle and that you are now roughing it!
Provide a game plan to the court.
Once you have proven that there is a change of circumstances, then the all important question arises: Now what? Even if support payments are reduced, the kids still need to eat. Any Lepis application must also have a game plan or a proposed reduction for the payor. Moreover, any Lepis application should also address when the payor will be able to return to making the regular payments. In my opinion, most judges are more inclined to reduce support payments on a temporary basis. Most judges are now scheduling another court hearing six months after any court order is signed that reduces support. The judge will want to bring the parties back into court to ascertain if there is any progress in the payor's ability to obtain better paying work.
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the division of property in a divorce is to be done fairly, not necessarily equally. The court can take into consideration any factor it deems relevant when dividing property, but it must consider certain factors, such as how long the couple was married and the age and health of both spouses, the income or property brought to the marriage by each spouse, the standard of living that was achieved during the marriage, and the extent to which one spouse may have deferred career goals, among others.
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