Child Support Obligations Upon Change of Custody
- May 29, 2013
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In the recent case of Wong, Jr. v. Wong, the Appellate Court, in its unpublished opinion, reversed the trial court’s order obligating the Plaintiff-father to continue to pay child support to the Defendant-mother and denial of request for child support from Defendant-mother after the granting of a change of custody whereby the parties’ son began living with the father. The trial court had ruled that a prior consent order between the parties whereby the Plaintiff-father waived his right to seek modification of his child support obligation for any reason and Defendant-mother waived her right to receive any further alimony prevented Plaintiff-father from seeking a subsequent termination of his child support obligation and a request for child support from Defendant-mother. The parties agreed to the terms in the consent order after plaintiff-father fell behind on his support payments due to a loss of employment. The Appellate Court cited to Lepis v. Lepis, 83 NJ 139 (1980) and the holding in Morris v. Morris, 263 N.J. Super. 237(App. Div. 1993) to support its finding that although a waiver to any future modification of support may be enforceable for specific limited reasons, the court can change an agreement if it finds equity requires it. It further found that the language of the parties’ consent order does not indicate that when it was negotiated the parties considered the possibility of a transfer of custody which is a change of circumstances that warrants a look into the financial circumstances of the parties and a running of the child support guidelines worksheet. Therefore, it was appropriate to remand the matter to the trial court. Plaintiff-father did not challenge the denial of his application for child support from defendant-mother in his appeal but only the denial of his request to terminate his child support obligation. The Appellate Court held that on remand the trial court must consider the needs of the child, the parties’ consent order, and the financial circumstances of the parties prior to determining whether or not Plaintiff-father should be permitted to waive child support from Defendant-mother. If you are owed or paying child support, have experienced a change of circumstances which may allow for a modification of child support, of if you have been served papers regarding a child support issue then you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to protect your rights. For more information about child support, child custody, divorce, dissolution or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.comThis blog is for informational purposes only and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney regarding your specific matter.