Parents who divorce in New Jersey have to split up both parenting time and parental responsibilities to the children. Many times, one parent receives slightly more custody time than the other. The parent with less parenting time may have court order to pay child support. In order to keep divorce proceedings as fair as possible, New Jersey has careful guidelines in place to protect the needs of the children involved and the rights of the parents paying and receiving support.
When creating an initial order of support during a divorce, the courts will look carefully at the financial circumstances of the family involved. The income of both parents, the division of custody time, and other factors such as special educational or medical needs for the children will influence how much support the court orders. Despite your best intentions to pay for your children's needs, sometimes circumstances change.
Changes in your health or job could leave you unable to continue paying the ordered support on time and in full. In this situation, you may have the right under New Jersey law to request that the courts review your support and potentially issue a modification to your existing child support order.
Various situations could result in the need for a modification
Life has a way of surprising people with unexpected turns of event. Whether the company you have worked for for 20 years suddenly folded and you lost your income and your pension, or you experience a medical emergency that has a significant impact on your finances, you could find yourself with lower income and increased financial obligations.
When your income changes substantially, the New Jersey courts are likely to consider your ability to continue paying support as ordered. It's important that people understand that there are certain minimums for child support. However, for the many people paying support amounts based on their wages, modifications that decrease support amounts when income changes are possible.
You need documentation of your changed financial circumstances
The courts won't just take your word for it that you now have less money coming into your household. You will have to provide documentation, such as a new work contract or pay stub that shows the decrease in income. Provided that the issue will likely persist indefinitely, the courts may grant a modification at a special hearing.
Making your case for decreased child support obligations during a modification hearing isn't a simple task. If you fail to do everything properly, you could wind up stuck with support you can't continue to pay. For most people, working with a New Jersey family law attorney is the best way to ensure successful filings and hearings in child support and child custody matters.