In an unreported (non-precedential) decision in the case of Brown v. Brown released on May 25, 2010, the Appellate Division determined that veterans disability benefits and social security benefits are income for purposes of determining alimony. In this appeal of an Order that granted some alimony reduction but not as much as the former husband sought, the facts are not particularly interesting. That said, what was interesting was that the reduction was not as much sought (and in actuality, the ex-husband sought an elimination of alimony, because the court considered the veteran’s disability pension and Social Security over his objection. In fact, he tried to argue that the spendthrift provisions (provisions that prevent creditors from attacking certain assets/benefits) in the relevant federal laws prevent such consideration but the Court noted that a spouse seeking support was not a creditor within the meaning of the law.
The matter was, however, remanded because the trial court did not analyze the statutory factors when reducing the support. As noted in my blog last week about the Walsh case, when dealing with a motion to modify alimony, once the Court determines ta ht there is a change of circumstances, they have to look at the needs of both parties. In fact, if the Court makes an initial finding of a change of circumstances, the court must analyze how much the alimony should be in a modification application the same way it would in an initial alimony application.