In a post judgment divorce action, the Court granted an ex-husband’s motion to modify alimony after he successfully demonstrated a 26% reduction in income. The parents of four children, the parties were married for approximately 23 years before divorcing in 2004. Pursuant to the Court’s judgment of dissolution, the husband was obligated to pay alimony in the amount of $114,400 per year for a period of four years, followed by $1,200 per week for a period of ten years. Said alimony obligation was non modifiable as to term, and modifiable as to amount, only if the husband’s income increased or decreased by 25% or more, or if the wife’s income exceeded $200,000. Above and beyond the aforementioned alimony obligation, the husband was ordered to pay child support in the amount of $1,200 per week.
Unable to reach an agreement with respect to the husband’s motion to modify, the matter went to trial. In support of his case, the husband introduced various tax returns showing that his income was reduced from approximately $500,000 in 2009 to approximately $350,000 in 2011. The Court ultimately found that the reduction of precisely 26% satisfied the terms of the Court’s original judgment of dissolution which permitted modification only under the above mentioned circumstances. It further opined that both households should bear some of the burden of that reduction and, thus, modified the husband’s alimony obligation by 26%. Although the aforementioned change in the husband’s earnings alone was sufficient to warrant modification, the Court noted that the wife’s income also increased significantly, even though it did not exceed the $200,000 safe harbor set forth in the judgment.
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