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Modifications of NJ Child Support
In New Jersey, your child support may be modified for many different reasons in several ways.
If a party has experienced "changed circumstances" as defined by Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139 (1980), he/she may file a motion with the Court to increase or decrease the child support he/she is paying or receiving. Before using the Guidelines to modify the child support award, the Court must find "changed circumstances." For example, if the payor parent's income substantially decreases, that parent may apply to the court for a reduction in support or if the payor's income increases, the payee may seek more child support.
Lepis requires that the change in circumstance be permanent, substantial and unanticipated. The party bringing the application to modify his/her child support has the burden to prove "changed circumstances" before the other party is required to provide the Court with his/her financial information. Examples of "changed circumstances" include loss of a job, permanent disability/illness of a party or a child, decreased or increased parenting time by the non-custodial parent, and attainment of a higher paying job.
Cost of Living Adjustment
Pursuant to Rule 5:6B of the New Jersey Court Rules, all child support orders "entered, modified, or enforced after [September 1, 1998] shall provide that the child support amount will be adjusted every two years to reflect the cost of living." A cost of living adjustment is performed by the New Jersey Child Support Probation Department.
The cost of living is based on the consumer price index of the metropolitan area that includes New Jersey. The New Jersey Child Support Probation Department is required to send both parties notice of the proposed adjustment and each party has thirty days in which to contest the adjustment.
A "changed circumstances" modification will restart the two year time period. However, a cost of living adjustment does not preclude an application for medication due to "changed circumstances."
Pursuant to federal law, a triennial review must be completed upon the request of either party to a support order. The Department of Social Services may also implement a review on any support order that is more than three years old. The federal law was codified in New Jersey as N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.9a. The statute specifies that no showing of a substantial change in circumstances is required if it has been at least three years since the last review. However, if the request for the review is outside of the three year cycle, a showing of a substantial "changed circumstances" pursuant to Lepis is required. Therefore, if there has not been a "changed circumstances" review or a cost of living review within the last three years, either party may ask for a triennial review.
The triennial review is performed by the New Jersey Department of Social Services. The Department of Social Services reviews the parties' income and the current child support order and determines whether the matter should be submitted to the Court for the support award to be recalculated based upon the Guidelines. If the Department of Social Services determines that the child support order should be modified based upon the Guidelines, it will submit the proposed modification to the Court. Either party has the right to oppose the modification.
Contact one of our family law attorneys to schedule a consultation to assist with the modification of your child support order. Call 1.855.WILENTZ.