Child support amounts are based on the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, which dictate that children are entitled to financial support from both parents. Furthermore, the amount of support is largely dependent on the income of both parents, which include many sub-categories such as wages, bonuses, rental fees and even life insurance policies. While it seems like an equal division, it's obvious that the parent with more income is ultimately responsible for a larger portion of the finances.
This can be tough if you are the paying parent, especially if you're already on a tight budget. It doesn't help that the court may increase the amount based on certain changes in the other parent's life. Amounts can also be changed through a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), which is based on the increase in the cost of living, as determined by the Consumer Price Index. In New Jersey, a child support order is subject to a COLA every two years, unless it falls on a year in which there has been no increase in the cost of living.
If there is to be a COLA increase to your child support order, you and the other parent will be notified by the court in writing. You are allowed to contest the proposed adjustment within 30 days after the mailing date of the notice. In order to contest a COLA, you will need to prove that your income has not increased at a rate equal to the rate of inflation (according to the Consumer Price Index). You can also object the COLA if your child support order has specific provisions for periodic cost of living adjustments. It's important to notify the court right away since a COLA does not prevent the receiving parent from asking for an additional increase based on a change in circumstances. In addition, child support orders handled by the NJ Department of Human Services may be increased every three years, even if a COLA has already been imposed. This means that you can be hit with back-to-back increases in child support while having no increase in your overall income.
If you have been notified of a COLA increase to your child support order, please speak with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. You only have 30 days to contest the adjustment, which involves gathering information and documentation to support your claims. In addition to helping you with paperwork, our attorneys will give you effective representation during your hearings before the Probation officer and/or judge. Finally, they will advise you of legal options such as modifications to your current child support order, which can help decrease the amount of support, at least on a temporary basis. Such measures can be extremely helpful if you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of job loss or disability. Our attorneys look forward to advising you of all your rights and options during a free initial consultation.
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