A family’s life can change substantially over the years, and financial needs may fluctuate as children get older. You might find that the amount of child support granted in your divorce or other court order does not meet your family’s growing needs. Or, your income level could change, and a time may come when you cannot meet your financial obligations. In either case, a Short Hills child support modification lawyer could help readjust the amount of support you owe or receive.
We understand how hard it can be to raise a family, and how much you may depend on child support to sustain your children. We also know how obligations can become burdensome if you lose a job or source of income. Our team of attorneys are ready to advocate for the best outcome for you and your family.
Any person who is entitled to receive support on behalf of a child can seek a modification. This could be either the person who is receiving the support, the person who is paying the support, or even a third party who wants to establish a support obligation and have it modified over the course of time that they have custody of the child. If you have a question about whether you are entitled to seek a child support modification, you should consult a knowledgeable attorney.
Child support can be modified based on the consent of the parties or upon application to the court. If either party has a substantial change in circumstances, they have a basis to return to court and ask for a modification. Common reasons for changing child support include:
If you have a support obligation established when your child is very young, you should consider going back to court to have the obligation reviewed when they become a teenager. If you switch jobs or if the child’s other parent has a substantial change in circumstances, you should also consider having the obligation reviewed.
The law allows any party to request a modification at any point after the court sets the original amount and enters an order. There is no limit to the times a party can ask for a change, although courts are likely to be skeptical of repeated requests. A parent or their legal advisor can file a motion requesting a change when they see the need for same.
The party requesting a child support modification must prove substantial changed circumstances before a court considers changing the amount. This means that circumstances must be unanticipated and permanent. If, for example, a job change was imminent when the court entered the original order, a judge may deny an application for modification. Similarly, if the changes are only temporary, or have not yet occurred, a Short Hills judge may find that modification unnecessary.
There are two times when courts will review child support amounts without a motion. In New Jersey, the law automatically adjusts child support awards every two years to reflect a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). This is to ensure that child support keeps up with the pace of inflation.
Secondly, federal law requires that states have a process for review and adjustment of child support orders, if appropriate, every three years. This process is mandatory for those receiving TANF benefits (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). The state is not required to review other support orders unless specifically requested by a party in Short Hills.
A court will always consider whether a modification is in the best interests of the children. Many factors shaped the original order, such as the child’s needs, the family’s standard of living, and the parents’ income and earning abilities. A judge will review these facts on a request for modification, focusing on the evidence of a substantial change in circumstances. A Short Hills legal representative specializing in child support modification can help gather evidence of changes such as:
A judge has latitude to consider many other factors. Perhaps the parent who pays support was unemployed (or underemployed) when the court entered the original order. If that person finds suitable steady employment, it could be time for a child support modification request.
It is important to remember that a party can ask for either an increase or decrease in the support order. For example, if the parent paying support has a substantial increase in their salary or net worth, the recipient parent can request a concurrent increase in support. The law gives children the right to share in each parent’s income, and so they should also share in an increase in wealth.
If you feel that you are not receiving enough financial help from your co-parent, a Short Hills child support modification lawyer could file a motion to increase support based on substantial changed circumstances. Similarly, if you lose a job or income, you may not be able to meet your current support obligation, in which case a Short Hills child support modification lawyer could file a motion to decrease support based on substantial changed circumstances.
Our expert attorneys are here to help. Your children deserve everything the law provides. Call us to advocate for your family’s best interests.