For many parents in New Jersey, one of the hardest parts about going through a divorce is the change in the relationship with their kids. This is particularly true for parents who have less parenting time. Along with less time with your kids than you had before, you will have to deal with the financial consequences of shared custody, which usually means child support payments.
The New Jersey family courts are careful about how they determine child support amounts. They try to take into consideration all of the major factors that can affect a family, from the income of each parent to any special needs of the children that could increase the cost of their care.
New Jersey relies on a formula to determine child support amounts, which means that changes in income can often mean changes in the amount of child support the courts would order. If your income has recently changed, then you may be able to request a modification of the standing child support order from your divorce.
A substantial decrease in income could mean lowered obligations
In theory, the courts will put the needs of your children before your own financial desires. However, child support should never be so high that it endangers your ability to provide the basics of life for yourself.
When a parent's income drops, so does the child support obligation for that parent. People can find themselves dealing with decreased income for a number of reasons. Maybe your company restructured and eliminated your position, requiring you to take a new, lower-paying job. Perhaps you reach retirement age and are no longer working full time. For some people, it could even be an illness or an injury that leaves them with decreased earning potential.
No matter what the reason might be, the parent has the right to ask the courts to review the amount of support that they pay.
A modification is a formal change to the support order
The courts issue child support as a court order, which means you have a legal obligation to make the payments as outlined in the order. Although it may take some time, you should always follow the formal process for changing your child support responsibilities.
This process involves requesting a modification hearing from the courts and then presenting evidence regarding your change in income or financial circumstances. Simply sending less money because your income has gone down may result in enforcement efforts, which could include garnishment of your wages or even difficulty renewing a professional license.
If you believe that child support as ordered is too high based on your current financial circumstances, talking with an attorney about the changes and your child support order could help you decide if a modification is the right step to take.