When parents divorce, the court tries to determine a fair child support amount based on the needs of the children and the resources of each spouse. In addition to the income of each parent, a judge may consider a child’s health care expenses, educational needs and the cost of work-related child care.
However, these factors are likely to change over time. If either parent feels that the current support agreement is no longer working, he or she may be able to modify the amount by petitioning the court.
When can a parent request support modification?
In New Jersey, the court may consider adjusting the amount of support if the circumstances of the child or either parent have changed significantly and that change is likely to be ongoing. Substantial changes that may justify modification include:
- A considerably higher cost of living
- A change in custody arrangements
- A major decrease or increase in either parent’s income
- An illness, injury or disability affecting a parent or child
- Significant changes in a child’s educational needs
Either parent may request a modification. The ex-spouse receiving payments may ask for a higher amount due to increased child care costs or lost income. On the other hand, the parent making payments may request a reduced amount if the current agreement has become an unreasonable financial strain.
Is a court hearing necessary for modification?
If both parents agree to the change, they may be able to negotiate a new support amount outside of court. However, the new agreement must receive court approval before parents can legally modify a change in payments.
A modification to a child support agreement can have a major impact on your finances. Regardless of who is making the request, a strong case is necessary to ensure a fair arrangement.