Child Support Modification Attorneys
Child support in New Jersey is a key component of any divorce involving the parents of a child or children and is designed to help the children maintain the standard of living they enjoyed while the parents were married. Unlike alimony and spousal support, there is a very specific set of criteria which determine exactly how much child support a party can expect to pay, or receive. For an estimate of what you can expect to pay, or receive in your initial child support agreement, you can view the NJChildSupport.org calculator here.
However, these child support agreements are based on the circumstances of the family at the time of the divorce. Many times, circumstances can change, and as such call for a modification to the existing child support agreement.
At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys have extensive experience helping parents to modify their child support agreement, or contest a child support modification petition, in towns like Randolph, Madison, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area.
Contact our firm today to discuss your specific needs and concerns regarding a change to your child support agreement in a confidential Strategic Planning Session.
When Can Child Support Payments Change?
In order for a judge to grant a modification to your Morris County child support agreement, the petitioning party must demonstrate that certain circumstances have changed permanently, substantially, and unpredictably (meaning that at the time the initial child support agreement was created, the changed circumstance could not reasonably have been anticipated by either party).
Furthermore, child support modifications can be sought by either the dependent party (the person receiving child support payments) or the obligor (the person making child support payments to the other parent).
Commonly cited changed circumstances which allow the dependent party to pursue an increase to their child support payments are:
- The obligor received a raise or promotion
- The dependent party lost their home
- The dependent party or their children suffered a serious illness or disability
- Federal income tax laws have changed
While commonly cited changed circumstances which allow the obligor to pursue a reduction of their child support obligations are:
- An increase in the cost of living
- Loss of employment or reduction in salary
- The dependent party secured new employment or a raise in income
- The dependent party remarried or is living with another adult
- The obligor suffered a serious injury or illness
- Federal income tax laws have changed
Keep in mind that these lists are not final, simply the most commonly cited circumstances during child support modification petitions. For a better understanding of whether or not your specific circumstances may qualify for either an increase or decrease in your child support obligations, contact our firm to discuss your options in a confidential Strategic Planning Session.
The Child Support Modification Process
When a parent believes that their circumstances call for a change to their child support agreement, they will file a motion with the courts requesting a hearing. Attached to this motion, the petitioning parent will include a copy of the specific order they are seeking to modify, copies of prior Case Information Statements, and any supporting affidavits related to proving the changed circumstance they are citing as reason for the child support modification.
Should the judge find that there is sufficient evidence of a changed circumstance which warrants a child support modification, the judge will require both parents to submit current financial information, and will then take into account all of the same issues taken into account during the initial creation of the child support agreement. To view these specific factors, please view our child support page.
Once all of these factors have been weighed and taken into account, the court will legally change your child support agreement to more accurately reflect these new and changed circumstances.
Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) Attorneys
Every two years, New Jersey law automatically raises child support payments in what is known as a Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA. This raise is in order to ensure that child support payments are keeping pace with inflation, as calculated by the Consumer Price Index.
As already noted, this raise is an automatic process and doesn’t require the party receiving child support payments to go to court in order to secure this modest increase in child support payments. However, the party who is making child support payments can contest a COLA child support increase if their income hasn’t increased at the same rate as the calculated inflation rate.
For more information regarding your child support agreement and a COLA adjustment, contact our firm today.
Child Support Termination Attorneys
The maximum age that a child can reach before they are no longer eligible for child support in New Jersey is 23. However, unless your child support agreement specifically says otherwise, effective February 1, 2017, all child support obligations are automatically terminated when the child reaches the age of 19.
Parents can file for a continuation of child support after the age of 19, but if your child is planning on attending college, or you have any reason to believe that they will need financial support after the age of 19, it is much better to address this issue at the time of the creation of your initial child support agreement, rather than afterwards through a child support continuation motion. For more information regarding planning for the post-secondary expenses of your child, please view our child support and college expenses page here.
Finally, if a child becomes financially independent before the age of 19, the supporting parent can file for a termination of their child support obligations due to the emancipation of their child (the legal term for financial independence). For information regarding this process, please visit our child emancipation page.
Contact Our Child Support Modification and Termination Attorneys Today
At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys have extensive experience helping parents across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area with all manner of child support modification issues, including changed circumstance modifications, COLA adjustments, planning for college expenses and support, and termination of child support obligations.
The unique approach of our firm focus on constructive and effective solutions which protect the stability of your family unit, and its financial and legal future. We understand that you will have to continue to work with your former spouse as co-parents, and we believe that through negotiation, we can protect not only your relationship with your co-parent moving forward but your relationship with your children as well.
To schedule a confidential Strategic Planning Session regarding your child support modification needs and concerns with our firm today, please contact us online, or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 710-4366.