Does Disability Nullify Alimony? The Jeremy Renner Case

Actor Jeremy Renner suffered a traumatic accident while operating a snow plow at his Reno, Nevada home on New Year’s Day. He was crushed by the vehicle he was operating, resulting in breathing problems and more than 30 broken bones.

With a long road to recovery ahead of him many are asking if disability would nullify alimony. This comes on the heels of Renner requesting to pay less alimony in March 2020 due to the coronavirus, which his ex-wife slammed at the time. The New Jersey family law attorney at Zeigler Law Group, LLC explores this change of circumstances related to alimony payments in today’s blog.

Obligations of a Disabled Person Under New Jersey Alimony Laws

If the payor of alimony in New Jersey has become disabled, that person is permitted to seek a reduction in the amount of money they pay to their former spouse. The payor can also request to nullify alimony, but this is even more difficult to have approved by the court than a reduction is. If the payor requests a reduction in alimony a trial will be held in order for the Family Court to collect evidence in support of the request.

What Is Change of Circumstances Under New Jersey Law?

The groundbreaking case of Lepis vs. Lepis from 1980 has changed the way alimony is looked at by the courts. This case helped to establish what circumstances can be used to grant a change in alimony amount and include the following:

  • A change in the income of the payor (increase or decrease)
  • An increase in the cost of living
  • The entrance of the dependent into the workforce
  • A change in the health of either party named after the original agreement has been approved by the court

The final bullet in the list is what we are concerned about when it comes to Renner and anyone who is paying alimony in New Jersey after suffering an injury or disability. You do not technically need to suffer a disability to have alimony payments reduced by the court. Any change in your health can lead to a modification being approved if you provide the right evidence.

Change In Circumstances

The Lepis court case also created procedures for addressing alimony modifications. The payor of alimony is required to show enough evidence that proves they have a change in circumstance in order for the amount to be lowered. This is referred to as prima facie. Aside from providing medical records and undergoing an examination, the payor will also need to show financial records that prove the current alimony amount is a burden on them because of their disability. The payee is also required to provide information about their finances before the court makes a final decision about modifying alimony payments.

How Alimony Modifications Are Requested in New Jersey

If you need to request an alimony modification because of a disability, you must file a petition with the Family Court for a Lepis hearing. At this hearing you will show the court why you can no longer manage to pay the current alimony amount because of a disability.

Medical records and test results are considered hearsay by New Jersey courts, which means the payor will need to have their doctor testify on their behalf. The doctor will need to

  • discuss your injury or disability,
  • how it affects your life and
  • ability to earn a living and substantiate medical records.
  • The doctor will also need to provide proof as to why you cannot work, both in oral testimony and in a written statement.

Once all evidence is provided the court will decide if the reduction in alimony is appropriate. The court might also decide that alimony should be canceled altogether. Either way, the payee is within their rights to file an appeal of the decision with the Appellate Court.

Do You Need An Alimony Modification Due To A Disability?

It is important to have a New Jersey alimony attorney representing you when requesting a reduction in alimony due to a disability. They know the ins and outs of the law, what to provide the court as evidence, how to prepare you for testimony, and how to respond to communication from the lawyer of your former spouse.

You are already dealing with a difficult situation by suffering from a disability. Do not continue to struggle with alimony payments because you do not know how to request a reduction in the amount. Talk to a New Jersey family law attorney at your earliest convenience to begin the reduction request process.

Call a New Jersey Family Law Attorney Today

Do you have questions about continuing to pay alimony after being disabled in an accident? Need to reduce alimony payments? If so, it’s time to speak to an experienced New Jersey family law attorney about your situation. Call our New Jersey Family Law Attorneys today at 732-361-4827, or submit our contact form to schedule a consultation.

We serve the entire state of New Jersey.

Contact Zeigler Law Group, LLC
Today To Get Started

Sonya K, Zeigler, Esq. and her team have a well-earned reputation for committed and fierce legal representation. Our firm is here to provide you with the best possible guidance. Call Zeigler Law Group, LLC, at 732-361-4827 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Tom’s River, Red Bank, Princeton, and Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.

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