When Can Child Support Obligations Be Modified in New Jersey?
On behalf of Child Support Lawyer – Laurie Newmark
Support obligations can be modified when either parent has experienced a substantial change in circumstances.
Parents are obligated to support their children emotionally and financially. For that reason, upon divorce, child support responsibilities are established for each parent. In New Jersey child support is determined by a number of factors, including each parent’s income, the number of children, the amount of time spent with each parent (custody agreement) and other expenses related to raising the child.
Generally, support obligations remain in place for each child until he or she has reached the age of 18 or becomes emancipated. However, we all know that circumstances in life can change drastically and there are reasons that support obligations need to be altered. The law in NJ accounts for these changes in life and allows for child support modifications under certain circumstances.
Modification under “changed circumstances”
Either parent may file a motion with the court to increase or reduce child support payments. The parent bringing the motion must be able to prove to the court that he or she has experienced changed circumstances (NJSA 2A:34-23, NJSA 5:6A). If the court determines the circumstances warrant a modification to support obligations, the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines will be used to calculate the new payment.
A variety of circumstances can rise to the level of justifying a modification. Each case will be evaluated by the court individually and the party bringing the motion will need to show the court that a substantial change has taken place, the change is permanent and unexpected. Namely, the change cannot be something temporary and the parent must not have anticipated or purposefully caused the change to occur. Some examples of a major change in circumstances may include:
- Job loss
- Gaining a higher paying job
- Changes to parenting time (increase or decrease)
- Major health issues of the parent
- Major health issues of the child
- Permanent disability of the parent
- Change in expenses necessary to raise the child
- Additional children the parent needs to support
In addition to the NJ Child Support Guidelines, the court will look at the same factors that were considered in the original child support order when modifying support obligations. Some of these factors may include each parent’s earning ability, debts and assets, health and medical expenses, standard of living, medical and educational expenses of the child and any other expenses related to the needs of the child. The court may increase or reduce child support obligations based on the guidelines and consideration of all of the factors and circumstances that may be affecting the parents and the child.
A child support attorney can help
There is no set plan or criteria for when a child support order may be modified. If you feel your circumstances or those of your ex-spouse have changed and child support modification may be appropriate, contact an attorney at Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, L.L.C. An experienced family law attorney can discuss your situation and help you pursue the best course of action for you and your family.