There are numerous moving variables in a divorce, and that includes the economic circumstances of both parties and their child’s needs. A parent may suddenly lose a job, while another parent may find a new source of income. Unexpectedly, their child could fall ill, draining the family’s financial resources.
When these significant financial changes occur, the original child support order no longer reflects factual events.
Couples are responsible for supporting their child’s basic needs, like shelter, clothing, food and education. One parent is the “obligor,” the one who pays for child support under New Jersey guidelines. Meanwhile, the other parent is the “obligee” or the collector of child support.
However, either parent may seek modification due to “changed circumstances.” This term refers to substantial, unanticipated and permanent transformations in your or your ex-partner’s life since the finalization of the child support order. Here are some life events that may count as changed circumstances.
- Cost of living increases
- Federal tax law changes
- Obligee loses their residence
- Obligee finds new employment
- Obligor’s income increases or decreases
- Obligor, obligee or the child suffers from a severe illness or disability
A New Jersey child support order includes a “cost of living adjustment” (COLA) clause. This provision means that the state’s courts raise the amount of child support every two years to keep up with cost-of-living fluctuations calculated by economic indicators, like the Consumer Price Index. However, the court may not approve a COLA provision. It may be because the couple waived the option or the original agreement already included incremental increases for a given time.
Adapting to the times
Divorce laws and other economic factors are beyond your control. What you can influence instead is working on a fair and workable arrangement with a divorce legal counsel, that can simplify the modification process and align it with your family’s best interests.