Child support is financial support paid by one parent, the "obligor," to the other parent, the "obligee." Child support agreements are typically drafted at the same time as the child's custody order is set up. Because of this, a child support agreement will reflect the circumstances relevant to the parents at the time of the custody order. However, as time goes on and circumstances change, child support may need to either increase or decrease to better fit the needs of the child. While a child support order is meant to stand for a lengthy duration, when a child's or parent's life undergoes a significant change, the court may be petitioned for a child support modification.
Filing For A Child Support Modification In New Jersey
New Jersey law requires that a parent show "changed circumstances" in order to request a child support modification. However, the phrase "changed circumstances" does not mean just any change in a parent's life. For a custody modification request to be considered, the change in circumstance must be "permanent, substantial, and unanticipated." This means that the changes that a parent experiences cannot have been pre-planned, and they must be significant and lasting enough that the court believes it will affect their ability to support a child. Either parent may put forward the request for a child support modification if they believe it is necessary. Situations that may call for a child support modification request include loss of a parent's income, a significant increase in a parent's income, one parent getting a new spouse, and more. Some of these changes may also end up affecting a standing custody agreement as well.
Decisions On Child Support Modifications
When the court is petitioned to make a decision on a child support modification, there are several factors that are considered in the judge's final decision. Some of these factors include:
- The child's needs: Above all else, the needs of the child factor into the court's decision. These will include physical, emotional and mental health needs.
- Age of the child: If a child is older, they may not need as much support as a younger child. Older children tend to seek summer jobs and other sources of their own personal income. They also tend to be less dependent on their parents.
- Income of the parents: Since child support is largely based off of the income of the parents, the court must consider each individual parent's income, as well as the combined net income of both parents.
- The ability of each parent to find a new job or seek career and educational opportunities: The court will factor in a parent's potential earning capacity. This includes their current degrees and professional certifications
- Debts and liabilities of parents: Parents with large amounts of debt or other obligations may not be able to meet the needs of their child as well as those without debt. This will be considered in any requests for child support modification.
If you or a loved one is seeking a child support modification in New Jersey, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.