New Jersey Child Support Modifications

All children in New Jersey are entitled to have their needs financially supported by both of their parents. An order of child support helps to ensure that this happens. Although the law requires that a parent pays child support, there are situations when the payments cease or change.

Difference Between Modification and Termination

A termination puts an end to the child support obligation and the non-custodial parent is no longer required to pay. New Jersey's child support obligation terminates automatically when the child turns 19 (in most circumstances) or is otherwise emancipated. In contrast, child support modification occurs when an order is changed, but the obligation remains. For example, New Jersey law allows either party to file a motion with the court to increase or decrease the child support amount if a party experiences "changed circumstances" such as job loss.

New Jersey Child Support Modification Laws at a Glance

Although it's not always easy to understand complicated statutes written in lawyerspeak, it's still important for parents to understand how the law can impact changes in a child support order. An explanation of the statutes written in plain English is a good starting point in meeting this goal. See the chart below for a short summary of the law that dictates New Jersey's child support modification.

Statutes

Changed Circumstances

The party that wants modification has the burden to prove that the change in circumstance is substantial, permanent, and unanticipated.

"Changed circumstances" examples:

  • Job loss
  • Permanent disability of a party or a child
  • Change in parenting time

The law requires a triennial review of the order upon the request of either party. You don't have to show changed circumstances if it's been at least 3 years since the last review. However, if the request is made outside of the 3-year window, then the change of circumstance showing is required.

Adjustments

Cost of living adjustments

  • State law mandates a cost of living adjustment on every child support order every 2 years.
  • The parties must receive notice of the proposed adjustment and has 30 days to contest the adjustment.
  • A "changed circumstances" modification restarts the 2-year time span. But a cost of living adjustment doesn't prevent a party from filing a "changed circumstance" modification.

Shared parenting time adjustments

  • When a child spends additional or less time with the non-custodial parent, the costs for the child will increase or decrease and the custodial parent's costs will also change. Thus, an adjustment for parenting time/visitation is appropriate.

Review of the Order

The court will take into account the state's child support guidelines and will consider the same factors for modification as in the existing child support order.

Factors may include:

  • Earning ability
  • Debts and assets
  • Health care expenses
  • Additional expenses to cover child's needs

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

New Jersey Child Support Modification: Related Resources

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