As a continuation to my alimony-themed posts, the particular issue that is the subject of this blog post may come as a surprise to some supporting spouses; namely, the fact that the term and amount of a limited duration alimony obligation can be lengthened in some rare circumstances.
New Jersey Courts do have authority to modify the amount and term limited duration alimony. In the case of modifications of limited duration alimony, the alimony statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(c), provides as follows:
An award of alimony for a limited duration may be modified based either upon changed circumstances, or upon the nonoccurrence of circumstances that the court found would occur at the time of the award. The court may modify the amount of such an award, but shall not modify the length of the term except in unusual circumstances.
Rothfeld v. Rothfeld (App. Div. 2008), while unpublished, is just one example of this portion of the statute in action. In Rothfeld, the parties divorced after an approximately seven (7) year marriage. They had two (2) children: Jonathan, who was born on September 19, 1996; and Martin, who was born on September 15, 1998. Both parties were members of the New Jersey Bar and the husband had an active private practice. The wife had not returned to active practice, however, as a result of her parenting obligations with respect to the children, particularly Jonathan, which had prevented her from doing so.
In reaching their divorce settlement, the parties agreed upon “limited duration alimony” in the amount of $500 per week for four years, effective April 1, 2003. According to the wife, at the time the PSA was negotiated, “it was assumed that [she] would be able to obtain per diem work in the law field.”