Bergen County NJ Child Support Modifications
Family Law Attorney Serving Hackensack, Fort Lee, Teaneck, Garfield, and New Jersey
In New Jersey, child support is a continuous responsibility of both parents, whether they are divorced or unmarried. Once a child support determination is made per the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, it is entered as a court order which cannot be changed or terminated without a petition to the court to do so. As the parent providing child support, you must demonstrate a significant change in circumstances, such as a decrease in income, in order to have a child support modification approved. As the parent requesting a change in your child support arrangement, you must also show a substantial change, such as a change in the child’s needs, to justify an increase in child support payments. Making a change related to child support in New Jersey is certainly possible, but it is highly advisable to have an experienced New Jersey family lawyer assisting you throughout the process to ensure that your request for a child support modification is composed, submitted, and argued with the highest likelihood for success. Similarly, if the other parent is requesting a change in child support, you need an experienced attorney who can aggressively contest their petition in court.
At The Elfant Rickett Law Firm, our practice is dedicated exclusively to divorce and family law matters. Our firm’s founder, Rosa Rickett, has honed her skills in these complex areas of law throughout her career, which has allowed her to tackle the most challenging family law cases with stunning success. In fact, Rosa recently received the Client’s Choice Award from Avvo.com. You can read more about Rosa, as well as reviews from former clients, by accessing Rosa’s Individual Profile on Avvo.com. To schedule a consultation about your child support case and to learn more about how we can help you with a child support modification matter, feel free to contact our offices in Hackensack today at 201.968.5700.
How to Change Child Support in New Jersey
New Jersey law recognizes the fact that life is never stagnant. In other words, a child support determination that applies to the circumstances of the moment may not apply years down the line, or if things change anytime in the future. In order to modify an existing child support order, the person making the request must demonstrate to the court that circumstances have changed substantially and permanently. Although there is no hard-and-fast rule for exactly what justifies a child support modification, New Jersey case law defined “changed circumstances” in the landmark case of Lepis v. Lepis in 1980. According to the decision in Lepsis, the court can modify an existing child support agreement if the change in circumstances is unanticipated, permanent, and substantial. Potential changes that may warrant a child support modification include:
- A significant increase or decrease in one parent’s income
- The child custody/parenting time arrangement has changed
- One parent or the child has suffered a serious illness or injury
- Permanent disability of one parent
- Long-term unemployment or re-employment after a period of unemployment
- The parent receiving child support has cohabitated or remarried
- The child’s needs have changed: this can include special medical or educational needs, daycare, college or other significant changes in the child’s life
- Increase in the cost of living
Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA)
New Jersey Court Rule 5:6B mandates that child support orders in New Jersey must be adjusted every two years to reflect the cost of living, as established by the Consumer Price Index. These changes are referred to as “Cost of Living Adjustments” or simply COLA. They are executed by the New Jersey Child Support Probation Department and are automatically updated after each two-year period. When a cost of living adjustment occurs, both parents will receive a notice from the Probation Department, after which each party has the opportunity to contest the adjustment within 30 days. While COLA adjustments are intended to reflect the impact of inflation on expenses, the parent providing child support may contest a cost of living adjustment if his or her income has not increased in accordance with the Consumer Price Index or if the child support order already provides an alternative periodic cost-of-living adjustment. In order to successfully contest a cost of living adjustment, it is critical to have an experienced New Jersey child support lawyer on your side.
Requesting a Child Support Modification in New Jersey
As mentioned above, in order to secure a child support modification in New Jersey, you must submit a petition to the Court and provide sufficient evidence to support the contention that a significant change in circumstances has occurred. Then, the Court will evaluate a number of factors, including the current child custody arrangement, each parent’s financial situation, and the needs of the child or children, before deciding if a child support modification is warranted. It is extremely beneficial to have a seasoned New Jersey family law attorney who can walk you through the process of securing or contesting a change in child support, as these proceedings are complicated and often highly contentious.
Contact a Paramus NJ Child Support Attorney for Additional Information
If you are seeking a child support modification or you need to contest a request for change in child support, The Elfant Rickett Law Firm can help. With offices in Hackensack, our New Jersey family law team assists clients with child support modification matters throughout Bergen County and New Jersey, including in Ridgewood, Bergenfield, Lodi, Mahwah, Cliffside Park, and Rutherford. To discuss your specific child support situation with a Bergen County child support lawyer, contact us today at 201.968.5700 or submit an online contact form to begin your conversation.