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What You Need to Know About Modifying Child Support Payments After a Job Loss

Unforeseen circumstances like a job loss can throw a wrench into your child support payments. In New Jersey, the obligation to pay remains unchanged unless the court modifies it. Learn about the steps you can take to modify your child support agreement and ensure your child's needs are met.

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What happens if you lose your job and are unsure how you’ll make your next child support payment? In New Jersey, your obligation to pay your court-ordered amount of child support stays the same unless the court changes it. 

When you’re divorced and have children, you have a continuing legal obligation to support your children when they’re minors. If you’re the parent paying child support and you stop paying, your responsibility doesn’t cease. Instead, failing to pay the other parent creates a snowball effect as the current amount you owe gets added to what you haven’t paid. 

In cases where the unpaid support is significant, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest. Other sanctions include wage garnishment, suspension of your driver’s license, passport, or other professional licenses, and a negative mark on your credit report.

That’s why it’s important to take action quickly if you’re paying child support and suffer a job loss or other life situation that can alter your financial situation.

Can You Modify a Child Support Payment Agreement in NJ? 

New Jersey allows either parent to file a motion to modify a child support order after experiencing a significant change in their circumstances. The court recognizes that a shift in your life situation sometimes warrants a change to a child support order.

If you pay or receive child support and find yourself in one of these situations, you may be eligible to have your order altered, even if only temporarily:

How New Jersey Views Child Support Obligations 

In New Jersey, child support laws protect the well-being and stability of children when their parents are separated or divorced. These laws are tied into child custody arrangements since those arrangements determine which parent will pay support and how much to the other parent. 

In the Garden State, child support is calculated using the Income Shares Model, which considers both parents’ income and the amount each would spend on the child if the family remained intact. This model also looks at how many children there are and the custody arrangement. 

If you or your child’s other parent asks to review your current child support arrangement, the court will review various factors before granting a modification. In the case of a job loss, the court may review:

If you lost a job and are responsible for paying support, keep all records, including your job termination notice, resumes and job applications, responses, and logged time on your calendar that you’ve used to look for work. We recommend finding the highest-paying employment and even a job outside your field since the court can look negatively on an unemployed or underemployed parent. The court sets a parent’s income level based on education, skills, work history, and most recent salary.

The general idea is that the court wants to see that a parent who lost a job does everything they can to minimize the impact on the child while they’re looking for new work. That’s why using the excuse of “waiting for a job to open up in my field” won’t hold up since you’re still responsible for paying support. 

How Do You Modify a Child Support Agreement in NJ?

Remember, life can change your circumstances anytime, and you may need to request a change to your child support arrangement. Whether you’re paying and losing your job or receiving support and circumstances have changed, contact your team at Smedley Law Group immediately. 

Doing so will reduce your anxiety and provide you with some clarity regarding your unique financial situation. We’ll advise you as to what is and isn’t covered by the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines and discuss non-traditional alternatives that may work for you.

Before meeting with your attorney, gather any relevant information, including your existing child support order, which should include details like your case number, the names of all parties involved, and the date the court issued the order. 

Compile other supporting documentation, such as income statements, new medical bills, or educational expenses, that can support your case for modifying your existing Order. Your attorney will let you know what forms you need to complete to file the petition for modification with the court.

How Quickly Do I Need to Contact My Attorney to Modify My Child Support Order? 

Has your income changed? Has your parenting time changed, or has your order yet to be followed? Has the cost of insuring the kids changed? Has one of your children started attending college or may be emancipated? These are all situations that may warrant a review of your child support obligation. That’s why scheduling a consultation with Smedley Law Group is critical to ensuring you can take the appropriate steps for yourself and your children.

You need to know that in most cases, you can only establish or modify a child support obligation from the time you ask for it, so waiting to talk to us about your situation can cost you big time. Therefore, if your circumstances change from when your original obligation was entered, you need to speak with our team so we can guide you in the right direction and protect you and your family.

What Happens When Your Child’s Other Parent Won’t Pay Child Support?

Sometimes, even after a child custody agreement is in place, your child’s other parent doesn’t pay their fair share or refuses to pay. In that case, your Smedley Law Group attorney can go to court on your behalf to get a court order. 

The court can also establish arrears, which means providing for the payment of past child support obligations that remain unpaid. This creates a legal obligation that’s enforceable even after your child has reached the age of majority and is no longer eligible for child support.

Our experienced family law attorneys are here to fight to protect your rights—and your children’s rights. If you need help modifying or enforcing an existing order or want to ensure your child’s other parent pays their fair share, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Get the Right Family Law Attorney On Your Side Today for Child Support Agreement Modifications

A child support arrangement is rarely an agreement that remains set in stone. Like any other aspect of your life, the financial circumstances of your child and your other parent may change over time. Your child continues to have the right to be fairly supported economically.

Our experienced family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group can help you resolve any complexities in your child support arrangement. Those might include:

As with children, your child’s best interests are paramount.

Contact the Experienced Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group for Guidance About Child Support

We’ve often seen relationships between co-parents quickly become hostile. Our child custody lawyers want to help you and your co-parent reach an amicable solution that prioritizes your children’s interests. At Smedley Law Group, our child custody attorneys will advocate for you and your family every step of the way, including when your life experiences change and you need to modify your existing order.

Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. Our office is conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.

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