When parents divorce, the court uses a series of guidelines to determine a fair and workable child support arrangement. In addition to the income of each parent, a judge may take a variety of factors into account, including healthcare expenses, work-related childcare costs and the number of children the couple share.
Once approved, a child support order becomes legally binding. However, whether due to changes in income or changes in a child’s needs, parents may find that the original court order no longer reflects financial realities.
When is it appropriate to request a modification?
New Jersey law allows a parent to request a modification of support payments when either ex-spouse experiences a significant change in financial circumstances. In general, the court considers a change significant if it is permanent, substantial and was unforeseen at the time of the original agreement.
Which parent may request a support order change?
Either the paying or receiving parent may petition the court for support modification. For instance, a parent may request lower payments if he or she loses employment or becomes ill or disabled. On the other hand, the receiving parent may seek higher support payments if a child’s medical or educational expenses increase significantly.
Do parents need court approval to modify payments?
It is often beneficial for parents to negotiate changes in support payment outside of the courtroom, but it is important that they do so through formal request. An informal agreement that does not have court approval is not legally enforceable, which could lead to issues if one ex-spouse changes his or her mind later.