Here’s a look at three of the most common questions parents ask about NJ child support when there are issues with award amounts, or parents not paying. What questions do you have?
Question: I lost my job and can’t afford to pay child support. How does the court decide whether or not to modify my child support order?
Answer: First, you need to file for a modification for child support, which will require you to gather a number of financial documents that the judge will consider when deciding on the modification. To get a downward modification, you will have to show that circumstances have changed substantially since the initial child support order was put in place. In general, the court wants to see that a change has already happened, not just that it might or even probably will happen in the future, and that the change will be permanent or at least long-term. You will need to produce documentation of the decrease in income, including an updated Case Information Statement, recent tax returns, and W-2 statements or business records.
The other important piece is showing that the request to decrease child support payments is based on a “good faith” decrease in ability to pay. An applicant requesting a decrease due to job loss or a pay-cut has to provide documentation showing efforts to become re-employed at the former level, or evidence that such re-employment is not possible. At the minimum you’ll need to present an updated resume and a log tracking efforts to find work.
Question: My children’s father has a new job and is making three times as much money. Can I get child support increased?
Answer: In general, a parent can request an increase in child support for the same kinds of reasons that would justify a decrease. For example, if the other parent has gotten a much better paying job, or if you have been permanently laid off from your job and can’t find comparable work, you can ask for an increase in support. Changes in job status and income aren’t the only circumstances that might justify a modification. Some other possible reasons include a change in a child’s needs, a change in custody or parenting time arrangements, the birth of a new child, a child’s enrollment in college, or a child’s achievement of financial independence.
Question: I’ve had some issues with my ex being late and behind on payments, so much so that we had to go to court. He immediately made good and promised to not have this happen again, but this past month he was a few days late with the payment. I just don’t trust him to pay me on time. What else can I do?
Answer: One way to ensure that you actually receive the payments is to provide for payment through income withholding. If the parent who will be paying support has a job with a regular paycheck, the employer will receive a notice of the child support due and will deduct it from the parent’s paycheck. This can written right into a child suport court order. However, if your order doesn’t provide for this and you aren’t getting payments or your payments are late, you can contact the Office of Child Support Services in the Division of Family Development at the New Jersey Department of Human Services for more information on how to set this up (you will need to provide evidence as to why you are making this request). Even if the paying parent is self-employed and has irregular income, you can still set up the payments to go through the Office of Child Support and the Office will record and monitor payments through computerized records.