Once a child support obligation has been established it can only be modified if there has been a permanent and substantial change of circumstances that warrants the modification of support. When child support is modified it can be either increased or decreased.
Whether a change in circumstances has occurred is fact-sensitive. A court will evaluate the circumstances existing at the time the child support obligation was established versus the now existing circumstances. However, in the seminal case, Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139 (1980), the Court provided the following examples of changed circumstances: “(1) an increase in the cost of living, (2) an increase or decrease in the supporting [party’s] income, (3) an illness or disability arising after the original judgment, (4) dependent [party’s] loss of a house or apartment, (5) subsequent employment by the dependent [party], and (6) changes in the tax laws.” Id. at 151. This is not an exhaustive list, but is meant to illustrate the kind of permanent and substantial type of change in circumstances that would justify a modification of a child support obligation.
When a permanent and substantial change in circumstances arises modification of a support obligation is not automatic. A party seeking the change must file a motion or application for the Court to modify the child support obligation. In that filing, the moving party must demonstrate at least a first impression that one or more circumstances have changed. In that application, the filing party will be required to provide updated financial information about their income, assets, liabilities and budget. Per the New Jersey Court Rules, the party seeking modification of a support obligation is required to file the initial Case Information Statement, as well as an updated Case Information Statement with the application. If the Court agrees that an initial showing was made of a permanent and substantial change in circumstances, then the Court will generally order the other party to also provide updated financial disclosures and recalculate support based on the updated circumstances.
The attorneys at Ulrichsen Rosen & Freed LLC understand the types of permanent and significant changes in circumstances that warrant modification of support obligations. If you believe that you may have encountered such a change, we can assist you in determining whether you have a justified case and to help you determine the necessary steps to bring the issue to resolution.
If you have questions about child support or any other family law related issue, please contact our firm. Ulrichsen Rosen & Freed LLC is focused exclusively on the practice of family law and serves clients throughout New Jersey including clients residing in Mercer County, Somerset County, Hunterdon County, Burlington County and Middlesex County.