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Child Support Modification Sought As Father’s Income Decreased And Mother’s Increased

Child Support Modification Sought As Father’s Income Decreased And Mother’s Increased

In the recent post judgment Appellate Division case, Bigge v. Walker, the Plaintiff appealed from a 2013 Family Court Order that denied his Motion to modify his child support and life insurance obligations. The Appellate Division reversed the decision of the lower court. The parties involved in this case were married in 1987 and subsequently divorced in 1999. One child was born of the marriage in 1991. The parties’ divorce judgment directed that the Plaintiff was to pay $105 a week in child support plus an additional $45 a week toward an arrears that had accumulated after they separated. The amount was determined by the parties without using the NJ Child Support Guidelines. In addition, the divorce judgment required that the Plaintiff maintain $100,000 in life insurance to secure his child support obligation. In 2013, the Plaintiff filed a Motion to modify his child support obligation because his work was not steady and he was often unemployed and as a result he fell into arrears. He further asserted that he was suffering from severe health problems and had recently undergone a triple bypass heart surgery which impeded his ability to work. In 2010, he had got a job working in a mail room an earned $26,955 a year as of 2012. In 2013, the Family Court denied the Plaintiff’s Motion to modify his child support. The Plaintiff appealed. According to the Appellate Court, child support orders are subject to modification pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 and based upon a showing of changed circumstances. Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139, 157 (1980). A Family Court motion judge may modify a child support obligation when the party seeking the alteration satisfies the burden of showing a change in circumstances. Dramatic changes in the income or earning capacity of either party, or in the circumstances of their children due to events such as attending college, may result in a finding of a changed circumstance. Colca v. Anson, 413 N.J. 405, 415-16 (App. Div. 2010). In this case, the Appellate Division found that the Family Court judge mistakenly exercised his discretion when he denied the Plaintiff’s Motion to modify his child support as his income had been significantly reduced while the Defendant’s income had increased. Therefore, the Appellate Division was satisfied that the Family judge did not make adequate findings with respect to the Plaintiff’s child support obligation and life insurance requirement and the decision was reversed and remanded back to the Family Court for further proceedings. If you anticipate that you may want to petition the court for a post-judgment modification of your child support obligation it is imperative that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about post-judgment modification, divorce, child support, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way is intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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