New Jersey family courts try hard to take a fair and equitable approach to issues like alimony and child support following a divorce. Much of the time, orders of support that are established in a divorce continue without changes for the life of the order.
Sometimes, however, the parties involved will experience an unexpected and significant change in their circumstances. When that happens, you may hear the term “Lepis motion.” What does that mean?
It's a reference to a case called Lepis v. Lepis back in 1980. That case essentially granted the court the power to open up an old agreement regarding alimony, child support and other issues and revise it so that it remains fair under the changed circumstances.
Whether you're paying support or receiving it, it's smart to understand the things that a court will consider as it considers a Lepis motion. They include:
- The quality of life the couple enjoyed during their marriage
- How well that quality of life is being maintained following the divorce
- The changes in the needs of a dependent spouse
- The changes in the needs of any dependent children
- The supporting spouse's income, property and health
- The dependent spouse's separate income and property
- The dependent spouse's ability to support themselves and their efforts to do so
The court may also consider any agreement in your divorce that anticipated these kinds of changes in advance and provisions for them, such as lump-sum payments meant to be invested and so on.
Modifications of support can be tricky issues to navigate in court. Make sure that you have an experienced attorney by your side to protect your interests.