Under New Jersey law, it is possible to modify a child support agreement if one party has suffered a “change in circumstances.” The filer submits a modified Case Information Statement and the court will decide if the support amount should be changed. Note that this works both ways. If a payor has a substantial increase in pay, for example, the ex could file for an increase in child support to reflect the new financial reality. The real question is: what constitutes a “change in circumstances?”
That phrase is a very broad legal term and there are hundreds of precedent cases attorneys and judges to use to decide whether a particular life event applies. In general, the event must significantly change the person’s financial situation as reflected on the NJ CIS form. The burden of proof lies with whichever party files for the change.
One common reason for a requested change in support is if the payor loses employment. However it is rare for a judge to grant a permanent change. A temporary reduction might be given to allow the parent to find another job, though that typically requires extended unemployment.
Permanent life changes such as retirement or a significant health problem that limits a person’s ability to work are more likely to result in successful support changes. If the filer can show a permanent and substantial change in income on the New Jersey CIS presented to the court, then the judge might award a change in support. Note that payors retiring before the age of 65 historically have had a much harder time getting support reductions so that should be a consideration before taking early retirement.
Another common reason to reduce support is if the payor has children with a new spouse. The argument is that the parent has obligations to all the children so the actual costs should be spread out. However some judges have ruled in these cases the parent is simply underemployed and needs to find a better job or work additional jobs to support both families.
NJ Case Information Statement software allows family law attorneys to examine alternative scenarios, for example helping a client considering early retirement understand how that financial change may or may not change child support obligations. If a motion for a change in support is filed, it’s easy to make a few changes to the original CIS and print out a new one.
Complex cases like this are why a growing number of legal firms are turning to law practice management software. These automated tools make even convoluted property, custody and support agreements simple to calculate. Check out Easy Soft’s website for our state-specific child support products, general divorce software and other legal practice applications.