Myths About Child Support
The New Jersey family law team at John B. D’Alessandro has over two decades of experience practicing family law in New Jersey. In that time, we have heard all kinds of rumors and falsehoods about how child support, alimony, property division, and every other aspect of divorce function. Below, we address and debunk a few of the more common myths about child support. Call a knowledgeable New Jersey child support attorney with any other questions or for help with a New Jersey family law matter.
Infidelity and fault do not affect child support decisions
Many people going through a divorce want to get into as many sordid details as they can to help their standing and harm their ex in the eyes of the judge. New Jersey is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that neither party needs to show fault in the marriage to seek divorce. Child support, in particular, is calculated based on each party’s income, costs relating to the child, and expected parenting time. The decision is based on cold, hard math. Whether one spouse cheated during the marriage does not play a role.
If your co-parent is not paying child support, you cannot limit their parenting time
Some parents like to take matters into their own hands. If your former spouse is delinquent on their child support payments, you have legal remedies to pursue. You can get a court order forcing them to pay, seek to have their wages garnished, and even seek to have them held in contempt of court (which can land them in jail if they still refuse).
You cannot, however, “punish” your co-parent by keeping the kids away from them. If you deprive them of their parenting time, you are now violating a court order. You are now subject to the same penalties and punishments, and you might even lose some of your custody rights. If they are not paying, go to court.
You cannot ask for more child support just because your expenses go up
Child support is based on income and marital lifestyle. If you want to adjust child support payments, you must show a significant change in circumstances in your life or the expense of raising the children; for example, a sudden medical issue. The fact that your mortgage and car payments suddenly increased do not, alone, consist of changed circumstances.
New Jersey does allow a “cost-of-living adjustment” every two years, which adjusts child support payments based on the average cost-of-living change across New Jersey. This adjustment is legally required and is based on New Jersey as a whole, not your own new expenses.
You still owe child support even if you lose your job
If a court orders you to pay child support as part of a final divorce order, you have the legal obligation to continue those payments until you get a court order to the contrary. If you find yourself struggling to pay your support because of sudden expenses or a loss of income, you can petition the court for a reduction in your child support payments. Until you get a court order, however, you are still on the hook.
Help From a New Jersey Child Support Lawyer
If you’re in need of detail-oriented, effective, and trial-ready legal help with child support, alimony, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.