Consequences of Setting Support Outside the NJ Child Support Guidelines
- September 11, 2013
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The payor spouse or partner must exercise caution when setting initial child support outside the NJ Child Support Guidelines (“Guidelines”). In the event the payor later seeks modification of child support based on changed circumstances, the court may find the Guidelines to be inapplicable to any modification sought. Unless there is a provision in the parties’ property settlement agreement which specifies that the Guidelines are to be applied in the event of modification, they are likely not to be applied and any modification may also be set outside their framework. Unlike in a standard case in which changed circumstances are proven, modification is warranted and a new child support amount will be established within the Guidelines, there is another hurdle. The parties, or at least the party seeking the modification, will face the legal argument of whether there is now good reason to apply the Guidelines or whether the child support amount should remain outside their scope. In the case of Perri v. Salandra, the plaintiff conceded that the defendant suffered a drastic reduction in income and agreed child support should be modified. The NJ Superior Court held that the party sought to set support outside the Guidelines initially and included no provision in their property settlement agreement calling for application of the Guidelines in the event of modification therefore the Guidelines would not be applied to the modification. The New Jersey Appellate Court affirmed the decision of the Superior Court. If you are seeking a divorce or modification of support, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to protect your rights and weigh the merits of your case. Although parties often prepare their own settlement agreements, they must be sure to understand that the other party may seek to change the terms of the agreement in the future and how those changes may be applied to their agreement as written. For more information about divorce, civil union dissolution, child support, alimony, equitable distribution or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.