Most people experience financial hardship at some point in their lives, but parents who are paying child support may be stuck in a constant state of "just getting by". If you are one of these parents, you may be wondering how you can continue to provide for your child without going completely broke. You may also be struggling with feelings of failing your child, and being seen as a deadbeat parent by your family and friends. Last but not least, you may be worried about the possibility of going to jail and/or paying exorbitant amounts of back pay for missed payments.
While it's true that some people deliberately ignore child support orders, there are legitimate reasons that may prevent you from paying the full amount. Life changes such as job loss, disability, and having to take care of other family members result in a significant loss of income. The problem is even worse if the child support amount was high to begin with. The courts determine support amounts based on each parent's income, but many other factors, including the child's age, percentage of parenting time and even retirement funds are also involved. In addition, the courts have the discretion to increase or decrease the amount derived from the standard child support formula based on the child's best interests.
You do, however, have the right to request a reduction or termination of child support based on certain legal grounds. Grounds for termination typically include the child turning 18, or becoming
emancipated through actions such as marriage or joining the armed forces, although the court may rule that the child is not fully emancipated depending on his or her needs. Adult children who are attending college, for example, may still have a right to request financial support for education expenses. Grounds for reduction are a lot more complicated, although they do typically center around loss of income. However, child support payments can still be deducted from unemployment, disability, workman's compensation, or other government benefits. If you're working but have not been given a raise or had your hours cut, the court may require you to find additional work.
The most important thing to realize about child support modifications is that all decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. This means that you will need to present the strongest argument possible in court, which requires extensive legal and trial knowledge. If you think you have good reason to request a reduction in your child support payments, please consult the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. With decades of trial experience in the New Jersey family courts, our lawyers can give you a realistic picture of how the courts are ruling on issues similar to yours. They can also handle the complicated paperwork associated with filing a motion, and give you the effective representation you need at your court hearing. Please consider speaking with one of our attorneys during a free initial consultation.