Changed circumstances may require a child support modification

In uncertain economic times, it can be challenging to keep up with monthly expenses. If you have an existing child support order, though, you likely have a legal obligation to make monthly payments until your son or daughter becomes an adult or emancipates.

Falling behind on child support payments may lead to a series of consequences. Seeking a modification of your support order may be a better solution. In New Jersey, a substantial change in circumstances is grounds for modifying a support order.

What is a change in circumstances?

As the paying parent, you may seek a reduction in the child support you pay. Your child’s co-parent also has the legal ability to pursue either an increase or a decrease in support. Either way, there must be a material change in circumstances.

The following life events may be sufficient:

  • A change in your employment
  • A change in parenting time
  • A change in your, your child’s or the co-parent’s health
  • A change in your child’s needs
  • A change in your child’s expenses

What does the judge consider?

When weighing modification requests, judges in New Jersey consider the state’s support guidelines. The judge in your case may also look at the initial order to see if a modification is in the best interests of your child.

Is there any risk in pursuing a modification?

The old saying, “it never hurts to ask,” does not apply to requests for child support modifications. If you are seeking a decrease in the amount you must pay, you run the risk of having a judge require you to pay more.

That is, a judge has broad authority to determine how much you must pay, even if that amount is higher than your existing support obligation.