Custodial parents need financial support to raise their children. It’s expensive to pay for a child’s shelter, food, and clothing – along with their medical care, school supplies, car costs, and numerous other expenses. At D and D Family Law, our seasoned child support lawyers fight to obtain just child support orders based on the incomes of each of the parents, the number of children, and other child support factors. We also represent parents who need to modify or enforce child support orders.
Many parents do not pay child support unless you hire an experienced family lawyer who will obtain a formal court order of child support. Formal orders normally require that the noncustodial parent pay a specific amount each week, month, every two weeks, or bi-monthly – until your child turns 18.
Modifications of child support orders
We are strong advocates when the needs of children change and when the abilities of the parents to pay child support change. When changes are required, we file petitions to modify child support in the appropriate family court. Changes in child support may be due to the special needs of your child such as the need for braces, developmental issues, or health problems. Daycare needs increase if a custodial parent finds a job. If the other parent obtains a better-paying job, your child deserves to benefit from the increase in pay.
Enforcement of child support orders
Even when parents have a formal child support order, many parents fail to pay the amount they owe on a timely basis. When parents fail to pay child support or parents are continually behind in their payments, then skilled family lawyers file court actions that seek to enforce the child support order. A family judge may give your ex-spouse or the other parent a short amount of time to pay what is due. The judge may authorize a wage garnishment in order to ensure that the payments are made. In some cases, the New Jersey family law judge may sentence the parent who isn’t paying the order to jail until he/she raises the funds to pay the order.
Why parents fail to pay child support orders
Some parents just aren’t responsible and the only way to force them to be responsible is to seek enforcement of the child support order. Many parents truly can’t afford to pay the current child support order. If there are valid reasons for not being able to pay the child support order, a parent should seek to modify the current order based on a change in circumstances of the noncustodial parent. Some of the grounds for requesting a reduction of a child support order are:
- Loss of a job due to a company going out of business or the need of a company to lay off workers.
- Economic conditions that make it hard for a parent to earn a living or run a business.
- A parent’s health worsens so that he/she can’t earn as much and/or because treating the health condition requires paying the healthcare providers a lot of money for the necessary care and treatments.
- The custodial parent is earning substantially more money.
- Other valid reasons.
The request to reduce the amount of child support payments must be valid. A few invalid reasons are:
- Quitting a job or not working full-time – just to avoid paying child support
- Emotional anger at the other parent. The paying parent may be feeling emotionally hurt because of the failure of the marriage or relationship. The noncustodial parent may feel that because he/she is spending less time with the child that the reduction in time justifies a reduction in payments.
- Anger because the paying parent can’t control how the noncustodial payment uses the child support money.
Often, parents are more likely to comply with a child support order if the order was obtained through negotiation, mediation, or the collaborative divorce process – than if the order is entered after a contested hearing.
Except for unusual cases, such as when a custodial parent is clearly using the support money for a substance abuse problem, the nonpaying parent must continue to pay the current child support order – unless there are valid grounds to modify the child support order.
At DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law, our family lawyers understand that life changes. There may be times when a child support order should be increased or decreased. What’s never acceptable is to refuse to pay the order. Children come first. If you can’t pay the order or your ex isn’t paying what he/she knows, then you need to file a modification request or an enforcement action. To discuss your child support rights and duties, call us at 908-503-2925 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment. We have offices in Clinton and Florham Park.