Getting Child Support Payments Reduced When Your Income Decreases
Just when you think the economy is on the upswing, unstable financial markets around the world (think China) are bold reminders that you never know what you have until it’s gone. If you pay court-mandated child support, and you recently lost your job, your hours have been reduced, you fear getting downsized or otherwise “relieved of your duties,” you may be worried how to make ends meet.
After all, regardless of how bad your financial situation gets – even if you look toward bankruptcy for a fresh start – you won’t be able to have child support arrears forgiven. Like back taxes and college loans, child support payments are exempt when it comes to getting rid of debt by filing for bankruptcy protection.
Family court judges in NJ consider the income of both parents, expenses relating to daycare, healthcare, living arrangements, etc., when determining child support. The goal is for the judge to come up with a child support figure that is “in the best interests of the child.” That being said, New Jersey judges have little discretion when it comes to setting child support requirements. There are standards set by statute; the numbers use guidelines and formulas to calculate the “number.”
Judges know that there are some essentials all children require: shelter, food, medical care and education. The custodial parent is often entitled to payment (child support) from the other parent to cover these essential expenses. Family courts are governed by the standard that everything needs to be in the child’s best interests. The child needs to have certain essentials, such as a home, utilities, and medical care. If the custodial parent cannot provide for these needs by themselves, the other parent needs to pay child support to ensure these needs are met.
So, what can you do if you are facing a court order for child support that you can’t pay because your financial situation has changed? It is possible for a lawyer to go to court requesting a motion for child support modification. Getting child support is not an easy process. However, with a skilled and experienced family lawyer on your side, it’s possible to prove to a judge that you truly are unable to afford the court ordered child support payments. If the judge agrees to modify the child support order, you may have reduced payments or suspended payments for a period of time. This is a complicated area of the law, contact an experienced attorney for guidance.
First of all, most NJ judges will consider a child support modification if changes are permanent, substantial and couldn’t have been predicted. If your circumstances are temporary, or you are just anticipating have a change in income, it’s not likely a judge will grant a modification. Again, no two situations are alike. Contact a lawyer for legal advice.
When you contact Ronald Graziano from Graziano & Flynn, he will put together a case that will show the judge that your circumstances necessitate a change in child support payments. Once the judge agrees there is a significant change in financial circumstances, he or she will review the other parent’s current financial situation before ruling on a motion to modify the child support order.
As always, the judge puts the best interests of the child first. Therefore, the following things will be considered during a child support modification review:
- Income and standard of living of each parent
- Debts of each parent
- Earning capability of each parent (education, skills, experience, etc.)
- The responsibilities each parent has with regard to custody and making decisions for the child’s welfare
- Education fees
- Age and health of the children
- Other issues including the financial responsibilities of each parent with regard to court-order support of other individuals
One major question child support payers ask is: how soon can a child support order be modified. You must wait at least six months to file a motion to modify. However, oftentimes, judges may not consider a request to modify until after a year has passed.
Contact Ronald Graziano for more information about modifying child support orders. He will review your particular case and help you determine next steps. If he feels you have a good chance at getting your court order changed, he will fight tirelessly for you.