When parents decide to end their marriage, they must resolve numerous issues relating to their children. Child support is often a primary concern at this time. What happens, however, if one parent can no longer make payments or needs more money to help cover the financial needs of the children?
Avoiding Parental Conflict is a Top Priority in a Divorce
Most parents who get a divorce understand that they will always be a part of each other’s lives because they will have to interact on matters concerning their children. Finances are often the main concern. Regarding child support, parents who are willing to cooperate for their children’s sake can maintain a peaceful co-parenting relationship. If a conflict arises, a New Jersey family law attorney can help resolve the issue.
Disagreements may arise. Some parents may need to request a change to a court order. In such cases, they can file a petition to request a modification. Both parties must understand that unless and until the court grants the request, they both must continue to adhere to the terms of the existing court order. A parent who disregards a court order is at risk of being held in contempt.
Someone Requesting a Modification Must Show Legitimate Cause
Family court judges make child support decisions in alignment with state guidelines that govern such issues. In all custody-related proceedings, the court has the children’s best interests in mind. While the terms of a child support order may not be set in stone, the court has made such decisions carefully and will want to see proof that a parent has a legitimate reason for requesting a modification.
There are numerous issues that the court may consider to be valid causes for granting a modification request. For instance, a noncustodial parent who has experienced a substantial decrease in income may no longer be able to meet an existing payment amount. A noncustodial parent may remarry and have more children to support, which would undoubtedly put a strain on his or her finances.
A custodial parent, on the other hand, may file a petition to request an increase in child support, especially if a child’s financial needs regarding medical expenses, education or other issues have arisen. Children have many financial needs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the court will agree that child support payments should be increased in a particular set of circumstances. The court considers each case unique and makes its decisions based on state laws and guidelines.
The Court Considers These Factors Before Modifying a Child Support Order
In determining whether legitimate cause exists to increase or decrease child support payments, the court must be convinced that the circumstances that were in place at the time the order was issued have changed in such a way that the terms of the existing order are no longer feasible for one or both parents. A New Jersey family law attorney who is well-versed in such issues can recommend the best course of action in a particular set of circumstances.
Before denying or granting a modification request, the court will consider numerous factors, just as it did when making the initial ruling. Such factors include the income level of both parents as well as their potential earning levels. The cost of living where each parent resides, as well as the lifestyle the children in question were accustomed to during their parents’ marriage, are also kept in mind when making child support modification decisions. The health of both parents is another determining factor. If one parent has suffered an injury that resulted in a disability, for instance, it would no doubt influence the court’s decision.
A Strong Support Network Helps Families in Need
Perhaps you’re a single parent who was never married to your child’s other parent. Then again, you may be a parent who has navigated divorce. Either way, the court understands that certain life changes may make it difficult for you to comply with an existing court order. Trying to handle complex legal issues on your own is stressful. A strong support network is often the key to being able to swiftly and amicably resolve any legal problems that arise.
If you’re wondering whether you have the grounds to seek a child support modification, you can reach out for support by scheduling a legal consultation with Morgenstern & Rochester, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Call us at (856) 489-6200 to discuss your cast.