Child Support Modification Denied
- September 18, 2015
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In Markey v. Melazzo, the Defendant appealed from a 2013 Family Court Order that denied his Motion to terminate his child support obligation and force a recalculation of his arrearage. The Appellate Division affirmed the ruling of the Family Court. In 1995, the Plaintiff and Defendant had a son together but never married. In 2005, a Court Order directed the Defendant to pay $129 a week in child support. In 2012, the Defendant was injured at work and has since claimed that he is unable to work because he is disabled. Later that year, a hearing officer denied the Defendant’s Motion for modification of support, without prejudice, because the Defendant failed to provide proof of his income or the validity of his disability. In 2013, the Defendant filed the application which was the subject of this appeal, wherein he sought the termination of his child support and the elimination of his arrears. The Defendant claimed that the Plaintiff has not permitted him to visit with the child and has changed the child’s last name without his consent. In 2013, the Family Court denied the Defendant’s Motion because the Defendant failed to provide a valid basis for relief. The Defendant appealed. According to the Appellate Division, child support is necessary to ensure that parents provide for the basic needs of their children. Pascale v. Pascale, 140 N.J. 583, 590, 660 A.2d 485 (1995). A party who seeks modification of his or her child support obligation has the burden of demonstrating a change in circumstances warranting such an adjustment. Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139, 157, 416 A.2d 45 (1980). The decision must be made in accordance with the N.J. Child Support Guidelines when applicable. Caplan v. Caplan, 182 N.J. 250, 266, 864 A.2d 1108 (2005); Terry v. Terry, 270 N.J. Super. 105, 121, 636 A.2d 579 (App. Div. 1994). In this case, the Defendant sought the termination of his child support obligation and the elimination of his arrears dating back to 2002 when the child’s name was changed, arguing that the name change was a de facto termination of his parental rights, yet the Defendant cites no authority of his position. According to the Appellate Court, the Family Court correctly determined that the Defendant’s parental rights were never terminated and thus found no basis for vacating the Defendant’s arrears. With respect to the Defendant’s claim of disability, he did not submit any medical information. Therefore, the Appellate Division affirmed the decision of the Family Court. If you anticipate that it may be beneficial to you to seek a post-judgment modification of a Court Order regarding a child support obligation it is critical that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about post-judgment modification, child support, divorce, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way is intended to replace the advice of an attorney.