The economic difficulties many Americans are still experiencing because of the pandemic have forced some men and fathers to consider petitioning the court for a modification to their child support or spousal maintenance order. If your economic circumstances have changed recently due to decreased hours, layoffs, or being unable to work for another reason, you may have a good case to have your support order modified. Before you decide to pursue a modification, read on to learn how the process works.
When Is A Modification Appropriate?
Before you petition the court, you’ll need to determine whether the circumstances are right to file for a modification of your support order. If you meet the court’s criteria for a modification (more on that later) your request may be successful. However, if you expect only a short-term financial setback, a modification to your spousal support or child support may not be worthwhile. Your family law attorney for men should be able to give you an idea of the new amount you’ll be ordered to pay based on the circumstances. Consider whether this adjustment is worth paying a lawyer to prepare evidence and attend hearings. In most cases, it will be much more affordable for you to pursue the modification. I’d just encourage you to be confident in your decision before you decide to proceed.
The Court’s Criteria for Support Modifications
The family law courts in New Jersey use specific criteria to decide whether to grant your request for a spousal support or child support modification. The obligor parent must have experienced an increase in the cost of living, a decrease in their income, a housing loss, or a serious injury or disability. If a parent wants to modify a child support order, the parent seeking the modification has the burden of proving to the judge that the changed circumstances are permanent, substantial, and unanticipated.
Once you manage to convince the court that a modification is necessary, a judge will take into consideration the same factors courts must look at when making initial child support orders, including:
- the needs of the child
- the standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent
- all sources of income and assets of each parent
- the earning ability of each parent
- the age and health of the child and each parent
While the judge is concerned about your ability to pay each month, he must always consider your child’s well-being. When he feels he has determined an amount that strikes a fair balance, the judge will then finalize his ruling and the new support order will go into effect.
How to File A Request for Modification
Once you feel confident that a modification is necessary and reasonable, you’ll need to address the logistics: how to file, the timeline, necessary court appearances, and more. Before you do anything else, contact our family law attorneys for men. The process of requesting modification can be confusing, so I highly recommend you work with an attorney to file the paperwork and prepare your evidence.
If you’re ready to proceed, your attorney will need to file a motion asking the court to grant your request for a modification. You’ll need to attach a copy of the court order you want to change, a copy of a prior and current case information statement or statements, supporting affidavits, and all relevant briefs. You can also include any and all financial documentation; the judge will use this information when making his ruling on the modification. Then, your attorney can begin to prepare you for your hearing.
Modifying your child support or alimony order doesn’t need to be complicated when you work with The Micklin Law Group’s family lawyers for men and fathers. Contact our team today to learn more about your options.