If you recently lost your job, you may wonder how that impacts your child support obligation and whether you can reduce your payments.

Before addressing the possibility of reducing child support payments, it is essential to understand the factors that New Jersey judges consider when determining child support. 

These factors most commonly include:

  • The income of both parents
  • The financial status, earning capacity, and work history of both parents
  • Who has physical custody of the child
  • The age, health needs, and education of the child
  • The cost of providing for the child

Understanding these factors will give you a better idea of whether a reduction is possible based on your situation.

Modifying Child Support Payments in New Jersey

In New Jersey, courts use a set of criteria to determine whether a child support modification is warranted. When requesting a modification, the burden of proof lies on the parent seeking the change. 

The court generally requires that the change in circumstances be substantial, permanent, and unforeseeable.

  • Substantial: The change in circumstances must be significant enough to make the current child support order unmanageable or unfair. This often means that the parent has experienced a substantial decrease in income or financial resources. 
  • Permanent: The change in circumstances must be expected to last indefinitely, rather than being a temporary setback. For example, a temporary furlough or short-term layoff might not be considered permanent enough in the eyes of the court. 
  • Unforeseeable: The change in circumstances must be unexpected and cannot have been brought about by the actions of the parent seeking the modification. This means that a parent cannot voluntarily quit their job or take a lower-paying job to avoid child support payments. 

If the court does not consider a change in circumstances to be substantial, permanent, and unforeseeable, then a modification of support payments may not be granted.

Modifying Child Support Payments Due to Financial Changes

If you’ve lost your job and need to request a modification, you must file a motion with the court and provide evidence of the change in your financial situation. 

The court will assess the following factors to determine if a reduction is warranted:

  • Whether you’ve been out of work for at least 90 days prior to filing the motion
  • The reason for the loss of employment
  • The steps taken to obtain new employment or an alternative source of income
  • Your physical and mental ability to obtain and maintain employment
  • Whether you received a severance payment from their previous employer

It is important to note that quitting your job or being fired due to criminal activity or gross negligence may prevent you from modifying your child support payments.

It is Illegal to Not Pay Court-Ordered Child Support Payments

In New Jersey, as in most states, child support is taken very seriously, and failure to make the required payments is illegal. 

If you’re struggling financially due to job loss, it’s crucial to understand the potential ramifications of not paying court-ordered child support:

  • Income withholding: If you’re not paying your child support payments, New Jersey may order income withholding, meaning your employer will be required to deduct the payments directly from your wages.
  • Credit reporting: Non-payment of child support can result in adverse credit reporting, damaging your ability to obtain loans, mortgages, and other lines of credit.
  • Tax fund offset: If you’re receiving federal or state tax refunds, these funds may be intercepted to cover your child support obligations.
  • Seizure of assets: Property and bank accounts can be seized to pay outstanding child support debts.
  • License suspension: Your driver’s license, professional licenses, or recreational licenses may be suspended if you fall behind on your child support payments.
  • Court enforcement: You may be subject to additional court actions such as enforcement hearings, judgments, or contempt of court if you continue to avoid your child support obligations.

Clearly, non-payment of child support is not a viable option. Instead, it’s important to go through the legal process of requesting a modification.

Whether the court will grant your request for a reduction in child support payments depends on the specific details of your case. Having an experienced family law attorney by your side can be a significant help. Contact an attorney if you need help with a child support or family law-related matter.

Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help

Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule a free consultation with our team.

Bergen County Law Office
1 University Plaza Dr #400, Hackensack, NJ 07601, United States