Sufficient Financial Documentation is Required for a Prima Facie Showing of Changed Circumstances
By Snyder & Sarno on June 20, 2016
Under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, the party seeking modification of alimony must first establish a prima facie showing of changed circumstances. In addition, that party must fully disclose his or her financial information to demonstrate that circumstances are so different that, for example, he or she can no longer support himself or herself. If such a showing is not made, the request for modification will be denied without ever examining the finances of the other party.
In Bier v. Bier, the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s denial of the ex-wife’s application for an upward modification of alimony. She was receiving $25,000 per month from her ex-husband, but alleged that she was spending about $17,200 per month in medical expense that were not reimbursable and, as a result, needed more alimony. However, she did not make a prima facie case, in part because she failed to provide documentation of her medical or any other expenses. She also failed to provide documentation of her medical conditions or, because she had health issues before the divorce, records indicating any changes in her condition since the divorce.
The trial court found that the financial information that the ex-wife did disclose, which consisted of monthly estimates of expenses, were “woefully deficient.” The trial judge found that the ex-wife’s disclosures served only to present a very confused picture of her finances. Moreover, because the ex-wife failed to provide the letter opinion awarding alimony that was issued at the end of the divorce, it was impossible to establish a financial baseline. As a result, the judge was not able to make a determination of changed circumstances. The judge also found that, in light of her allegedly fragile health and inability to get out of bed, some of the unusually high numbers in her monthly estimates of expenses, such as restaurant expenses, commuting expenses and other transportation expenses, called her credibility into question.
If you have an issue regarding alimony, contact the skilled matrimonial attorneys at Snyder Sarno D’Aniello Maceri & da Costa LLC. Call us today at (973) 274-5200.
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