Can I Modify My Child Support Obligation?

When two people go through a divorce, or even if they were never married, if they share children, child support will be one of the most important issues to consider as part of their separation.  Child support is generally paid by the non-custodial parent to the parent of primary residence and is considered by the State of New Jersey to belong to the child as a matter of right.  It is generally calculated in accordance with a formula as set by the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines and takes into consideration, among other factors, each parent’s respective incomes, the number of overnights exercised by the non-custodial parent, and any contributions made towards the child’s health insurance.  Sometimes, a deviation from the Guidelines is appropriate.

Once an agreement on the amount of child support to be paid is reached by the parties, or if a judge sets the amount to be paid, that amount becomes binding.  The non-custodial parent is expected to pay this amount regularly and, if not, can expect consequences from the court in the form of enforcement and possible sanctions.

The courts, however, do recognize that financial circumstances are not set in stone.  Salaries can increase or decrease.  Children’s expenses will not always remain the same.  A parent’s health and ability to work is not always guaranteed.  Sometimes even the custodial arrangement changes.  This is why courts allow for modifications of child support obligations in certain circumstances.

In determining whether a modification of a previous child support award is warranted, courts are obligated to examine whether a substantial change in circumstances has taken place.  The change must be significant enough and ongoing to such an extent that it would be unfair to continue the previous child support amount.  The burden to prove that the change has, in fact, taken place lies with the person seeking the modification.

If you believe that your child support obligation needs an adjustment, contact an experienced family law attorney in order to address your situation in detail and to understand your rights.  Birz Law, LLC would be happy to speak with you to assess your situation and guide you through the process.  Contact us at (201) 701-1218 to schedule a consultation.

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