Court Denies Wife’s Appeal After Downward Modification Of Husband’s Child Support
- February 25, 2015
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In Licciardi v. Licciardi, an Appellate Division case out of Morris County, the Plaintiff appealed a post-judgment Family Court Order that reduced the Defendant’s child support payments, increased his responsibility to pay for their children’s extracurricular expenses, and denied her Motion to compel the Defendant to produce documents. After being married for over ten (10) years and having two (2) children together the parties divorced. Rather than a trial on all issues, they entered into a property settlement agreement (PSA) weherin the Defendant agreed to pay child support in the amount of $3,300 a month based upon his gross income of $175,000. Further, the PSA acknowledged that the Defendant was paying child support in excess of the NJ Child Support Guidelines found in Rule 5:6A. The Defendant also agreed not to seek a reduction in his child support obligation for “three years regardless of any change in circumstances . . . . and the child support may be reviewed at the expiration of three years . . . and every two years thereafter until both children are emancipated.” In 2010, the Defendant was granted a reduction in his child support obligation. In 2012, two and half years later, the Defendant once again filed for a reduction in his child support. The Plaintiff opposed the Motion seeking an upward adjustment in child support citing that her financial circumstances had taken a down turn and claiming the Defendant’s financial information was deceitful. The court again reduced the Defendant’s child support and increased his obligation to pay for the children’s extracurricular activities. The court found that the parties had established substantial and permanent changed circumstances based upon the Defendant paying monthly child support for a third child that was born from a second wife that he had since divorced. The Plaintiff appealed the Order. According to the Appellate Division, courts are authorized by statute to “revise and alter” child support Orders “from time to time as circumstances may require.” N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23. The party moving for the modification bears the burden of making a prima facie showing of changed circumstances.” Miller v. Miller, 160 N.J. 408, 420, 734 A.2d 752 (1999). Changed circumstances “include an increase in the cost of living, an increase or decrease in the income of the supporting or supported spouse, cohabitation of the dependent spouse, illness or disability arising after the entry of the judgment, and changes in federal tax law.” J.B. v. W.B., 215 N.J. 305, 327,73 A.3d 405 (2013). In this case, the Plaintiff argued that the Defendant was not entitled to a reduction in child support because his financial disclosures were incomplete and deceitful. The Appellate Court rejected this argument because the Plaintiff’s claims were simply bare assertions that were not supported by any competent, documentary evidence. Therefore, the court affirmed the decision of the Family Court. 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 child support, post-judgment modification, alimony, divorce 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.