Child support is an obligation, even if the parents are separated or divorced. Once a child support order is established, the paying parent is responsible for the monthly amount. However, as New Jersey parents know, life is full of changes and there might come a time when there is a need to modify a support order.
Either parent can seek a child support order modification for specific reasons, but it should be done as soon as the change that necessitates it takes place, since the modification will not be retroactive. Until the modification is approved by the court, the paying parent will be legally responsible for the established amount, even if the parents have agreed to a verbal change. A modification can be temporary or permanent, but it must always center around the needs and best interests of the child.
Parents can seek a modification if they become unemployed or get a job that pays significantly less than their previous job. They can also seek it if they become disabled, impacting their ability to work or to get certain types of jobs. As well, a modification might be sought if a parent becomes incarcerated.
Other events that might lead a parent to seek a change in the support amount include an increase in the cost of living, or if one of the parent’s income increases significantly due to remarriage. Another reason for a modification is a major change in the child’s needs, for example due to an illness. Parents who find themselves having to seek a modification might want to have the assistance of a family law attorney when doing so.