Like most parents in New Jersey, your child is a priority. This means that you probably do everything within your power to support him or her as best you can — including paying your child support. Life and finances can get complicated though, so you may be wondering whether your current support order is still the best fit for your family’s situation.
If the answer is no, you need to modify your support order. Not all parents realize that it is possible to modify support orders, which often results in them either paying too much or their children receiving too little. Here is what you need to know about getting a modification.
Requesting a modification
You will start this process by requesting a modification from the court that originally granted the order. The process will be much quicker if you and your ex can agree on a new amount. However, you will still need to appear in court for a judge to approve the new order.
Things might get a little more complicated if you cannot agree on a new amount, or if you disagree on whether a modification is even necessary. In this situation you will still need to request a modification and go before a judge. However, you will then need to demonstrate why it is necessary to modify the order.
When can I ask for a modification?
You cannot ask for a modification just because you feel like paying a different amount. Instead, there needs to be some kind of permanent change in your life that affects your finances. Examples of permanent financial change include:
- Job loss
- Getting a new job
- Medical emergency
- Permanent disability
What happens if your change is only temporary? You might be able to obtain a temporary modification instead. A temporary support modification can also be used when there is a temporary change in your child custody agreement.
What about cost of living?
Your child support order might include a clause called Cost of Living Adjustment — COLA. If you have a COLA clause, your child support payments will already adjust to match the change in cost of living every year. This change may either be an increase or decrease, and you will not need to go before a judge to implement the change.
You know that paying child support is an important part of being an active parent. However, making changes to your child support order is sometimes necessary, even if it means paying less than before.