Can I File for Child Support after Divorce?

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Can I File for Child Support after Divorce?

While an experienced family law attorney will file child support when you file for divorce, if you fail to file for child support for some reason – you can always file after the divorce is final. Parents have an absolute duty to support their children whose needs come first. Knowing if I can file for child support after divorce is a key question. A parent can’t back out of paying for support because you made a mistake, thought you had enough funds, or thought you had an oral understanding with your spouse. If you meet with your lawyer after the divorce, she’ll explain how to file for child support after the divorce.

If you are wondering can I file for child support after divorce, it is important to know the applicable law. Child support is authorized by the New Jersey state statute.

The court will consider the following factors when awarding support:

  • Your child’s needs
  • The standard of living of each parent and the economic circumstances of each parent
  • Every source of income of each parent
  • The assets of each parent
  • The ability of each parent to earn a living – including the cost of childcare
  • The educational needs of the children including higher education costs
  • The age and health of the parents and children
  • The debts of the parents and children
  • The duty of a parent to pay child support for other children
  • Other factors

Generally, the duty to pay child support ends when a child is no longer financially dependent on his/her parents. Child support may extend into adulthood if a child has a disability or other special needs.

It’s also important to know that you don’t have to be divorced to file for child support. You can file for divorce if you and your spouse are separated. You can file for temporary child support while the divorce is pending. Your children need to eat now. They need clothing now. They can’t wait months until the divorce is final to receive the care they need.

The question of – Can I file for child support after divorce – becomes a little more complicated if you and your spouse reached an agreement to pay child support but that agreement wasn’t written down and wasn’t made part of a court order. Generally, New Jersey family courts can only enforce a court order to pay child support. To answer the question of can I file for child support after divorce, continuing reading the rest of this article and make sure to contact a qualified family law attorney.

Can my ex reduce child support?

It’s important to not wait to file for child support (to wonder can I file for child support after divorce). The best-case scenario is to file for child support as part of the divorce process and not to wonder if I can file for child support after divorce. Once a child support order is entered by the court, it is difficult but not impossible to modify it.

Your spouse can seek to reduce the amount of child support after divorce – but only if there is an honest and substantial change in circumstances. Examples of valid changes generally include providing evidence by your ex that your ex:

Lost his/her job due to reasons out of his/her control. Your spouse can’t seek to reduce payments by just quitting his/her job or taking on fewer duties – unless there’s a good reason.

Health problems prevent your spouse from earning the same income as he/she earned at the time of the original child support order.

Your ex retires and receives Social Security and/or other retirement benefits. Generally, your ex has the right to retire – at normal retirement age. If he/she retires earlier, you have the right to argue the retirement is premature and should not affect the amount of the child support order.

A decision by your ex to stop working and attend college or to attend college while working is generally considered a voluntary reduction of pay by your ex – and will not justify a reduction in the amount of child support that is due.

Your ex may be able to seek a reduction in support if he/she remarries and has a new child which must also be supported.

If you remarry, your new spouse’s income is generally not a reason for your ex to seek a reduction in the support payments

At DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law, our family lawyers represent parents before and after the divorce. We seek to obtain the best possible support order for your children and to enforce unpaid support orders. We’ll answer clearly your question – Can I file for child support after divorce? To make an appointment with a caring strong family lawyer, call us at 908-691-2104 or complete our contact form. We have offices in Clinton and Morristown.

Erin D. DeGeorge
Erin D. DeGeorge joined DeTorres & DeGeorge, LLC as partner to the firm in June of 2010. Prior to joining DeTorres & DeGeorge, Erin was associated with the national firm of Fox Rothschild LLP and Cutler, Simeone, Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, LLC...
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