The Superior Court of New Jersey recently issued a decision in Countess v. Countess, Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division, Docket No. A-3541-20, affirming a lower court’s order denying a father’s motion to modify his alimony and child support obligations. According to the record, the parties were married for 11 years and have three children together; the oldest child is non-verbal and intellectually disabled. In accordance with the parties’ Property Settlement Agreement (PSA), the father agreed to pay $342 per week in child support and $385 per week in alimony for ten years, in addition to the children’s childcare costs.
The father moved to modify these obligations, arguing that the child support payments were based on an error in deductions and that his income dropped significantly after the parties’ divorce. In reviewing the father’s current circumstances, the trial court judge found no basis for reducing his child support or alimony obligations.
On appeal to the appellate court, the father maintained that the motion judge erred in listing the matter for a hearing when there were disputed facts. The appellate court disagreed with the father and affirmed the trial court’s ruling. The court explained that under New Jersey law, the moving party must establish a permanent change in circumstances from those existing when the support order was fixed.
Here, the court explained that the father did not establish a prima facie case of changed circumstances to support his motion to reduce his obligations. Specifically, the father failed to present evidence of the allegedly flawed calculations and evidence of his loss of overtime because of his health issues.
Modifying Child Support in New Jersey
In New Jersey, either parent can request a modification of an existing support order. The party moving for the modification must present the court with relevant financial information to support their claims. As the above case demonstrates, the term “changed circumstances” has a specific legal meaning in the context of New Jersey family law. The parent seeking a modification must also prove that the changed circumstances are “permanent, substantial, and unanticipated.”
Reducing Alimony Payments in New Jersey
Like child support modifications, a party seeking to reduce alimony payments must demonstrate that they experienced a significant and “involuntary” change in their financial circumstances. Typically, the party seeking to modify, reduce, or terminate alimony bears the burden of proof.
Do You Need to Modify Your New Jersey Child Support or Alimony Order?
If you are subject to child support or alimony in New Jersey and believe your situation warrants a change in your order, contact the Freehold family law attorneys at Scully Family Law. Modifications to child support or alimony can significantly affect a person’s livelihood and ability to provide for their family. These cases require a comprehensive understanding of complex substantive and procedural New Jersey family law statutes. The experienced attorneys at Scully Law have an extensive history of representing clients throughout New Jersey and New York in their family matters, including divorce, alimony, child support, and restraining orders. Contact the Freehold divorce attorneys at our firm at 743-462-1122 to schedule a consultation with a lawyer on our team.