What Parents Need to Know About Child Support Modifications
Depending on the circumstances, parents might need child support modifications to their original order from the court. There are a few different reasons why this might be the case.
Common Reasons for Child Support Modification
Usually, the court will consider making changes to the original order every 24 months based on various circumstances. However, a parent who needs modifications made sooner must have legitimate reasons to request one. The court will consider changing circumstances such as one parent’s income suddenly increasing or decreasing. It doesn’t matter if either scenario happens to the parent paying the child support or one who is receiving it.
As a child grows older, their needs naturally change. They might suddenly become interested in a specific hobby or classes or get accepted to an exclusive private school, which warrants a change in the amount of child support that would be required. Child support modification is also often necessary if the child has suffered a medical emergency and requires ongoing, expensive medical care.
A parent becoming incarcerated can lead to financial hardship because they are unable to earn an income. In this situation, the prison-bound parent can file a motion with the help of their New Jersey family law attorney as soon as possible with the court that issued the original order. The court could place a reduction or even a temporary suspension of the child support to be paid. Failing to notify the court can result in child support going into arrears, however.
Having new children through birth or adoption may also warrant child support modification. In some cases, the court will adjust the original order to accommodate the parent so that they can pay to support all of their children.
What Should Custodial and Non-custodial Parents Do?
In many cases, parents share custody, but one parent is ordered to pay child support to the other. Of course, in situations where one parent has custody while the other only gets visitation, the non-custodial parent is ordered to pay support toward the child’s welfare. Custodial parents who want to request child support modification can make a request if they learn that their former spouse has received a sizable increase in income or when the child’s needs have changed.
Non-custodial parents who experience a significant decrease in income can also request child support modification. This is usually temporary until the parent is able to improve their financial situation. In many cases, losing a job and going on unemployment insurance may require modification until the parent secures a new job.
Requesting Child Support Modification
When parents need child support modification, it’s a good idea to act quickly. The state’s laws dictate when it’s considered appropriate to request a child support modification, so if you aren’t sure whether your situation warrants it, you may want to consult a New Jersey family law attorney.
The court is also more open to making changes to the original child support order when both parties reach a mutual agreement on the modifications. However, even when this happens, nothing is official until the judge approves it. If there’s difficult reaching an agreement, parents can attend mediation sessions to negotiate and find a solution that’s fair for both of them.
Any changes in a parent’s financial situation should be documented and presented to the court. Meanwhile, the paying parent should continue making timely child support payments as it reflects positively on them in the judge’s eyes. This could improve the chances of child support modification being approved. It can also prevent a potential problem with going into arrears with child support payments and having to end up paying even more. It should be noted that, even if a modification is granted, it will be prospective only and will not affect any past due amounts.
Parents who lose their jobs should make a concerted effort to find new ones as soon as possible. Even if a parent is involuntarily unemployed, it doesn’t mean they no longer have to pay child support.
If you have questions about whether your situation warrants a child support modification, contact a New Jersey family law attorney at Morgenstern & Rochester in Cherry Hill. We can be reached at (856) 489-6200.