Can I Reduce my Child Support Obligations While I Pursue a Higher Education?
When a child support agreement is made during a divorce, that agreement will be based on the circumstances of both parents, and their children, at the time of the divorce. However, New Jersey child support law allows for modification of an existing child support order when certain circumstances change permanently, and substantially.
In this article, we will examine some of the more common scenarios wherein an individual may be able to reduce their child support obligations, and also seek to answer the question of whether or not a child support modification can be sought in the case that the supporting parent decides they will leave their job in order to pursue a post-secondary education, and through this, greater employment opportunities and income with which to better support their children.
Loss of Employment and Child Support Modifications
Child Support Modification Attorneys Chester, NJ
One of the most common scenarios wherein courts have previously granted modifications to child support obligations is when a parent loses their job, or suffers a substantial reduction in income. In such a scenario, courts may grant a temporary reduction in child support obligations until such time that the parent secures gainful employment once again, or possibly even a permanent reduction in child support obligations if the court determines that the parent will not be able to secure their previous level of income moving forward.
However, these reductions in child support obligations typically only occur when the income reduction of the supporting parent was involuntary. This means that if the parent knowingly chose to leave their job, or is capable of earning $100,000 for example but is choosing instead to work in a job which only pays $40,000, than that parent most likely will not be able to secure a reduction in their child support obligations. With this in mind, NJ courts, confirmed by the Appellate Division, answered the question of whether or not a parent who chooses to leave their job in order to attend a higher education program full-time can seek temporary reduction in their child support obligations in the case of Zavaglia v. Bray.
Can I Temporarily Modify Child Support While Attending College? Zavaglia v Bray Case Law NJ
Temporary Child Support Modification Lawyers Mendham, NJ
In the case of Zavaglia v. Bray, father Anthony Zavaglia sought to reduce his child support obligations while attending an online college, with the stated intent that he wanted to obtain the education necessary for providing a more secure financial future for his children. However, as both the trial court and the Appellate court found that not only did Anthony leave his job voluntarily, this change in circumstance was also only temporary, rather than permanent. As a result of this finding, both courts denied Zavaglia’s petition for child support modification, and in doing so, have now set a legal precedent for all parents wishing to modify child support obligations while attending university or college.
While it is certainly understandable why any parent would wish to seek higher education in order to better provide for their children, as the law stands in New Jersey, parents choosing to do so should not expect to be able to modify their child support obligations while securing said education.
Contact Our Morris County Child Support Modification Attorneys Today
Even though case law established in Zavaglia v Bray may prevent parents who are temporarily taking a reduction to their income while attending university from modifying their child support agreement, there are many other circumstances where a child support modification may be possible, and often necessary.
At The Law Office of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience helping parents to resolve child support and child support modification issues of all kinds across Chester, Mendham, Chatham, Harding, Morristown, and Morris County.
By practicing exclusively divorce and family law, our firm can focus on the issues most important to you, and providing you with the informed, knowledgable, effective, and compassionate legal service that you need and deserve when it comes to you, your children, and your financial futures.
To speak with one of our experienced attorneys today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your divorce, child support agreement, or potential child support modification, please contact us online, or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 828-0829.