A person’s financial situation can constantly change, this may have a dramatic impact on other areas of their lives—this may include less spending money, needing to move, or reducing child support. However, proving child support obligations need to be reduced can be a complicated process overall. In a recent New Jersey appellate court case, the court was tasked with determining whether or not to recalculate the father’s annual earnings—and thus the amount he would pay in child support—after a dramatic decrease in his income.
In this case, the parties were married and had three children. When the parties were married, the father earned between $300,000 and $1.38 million per year; however, the father was diagnosed with leukemia. The father contends that the cancer diagnosis—along with the travel, stress, and time away from the family—impacted his yearly earnings. At the time of the divorce, the parties agreed to impute an annual income of $500,000 to the father and $35,000 to the mother; this would mean the father would pay $4,000 per month in child support for the three children. The father’s yearly earnings then dramatically declined to $82,000 and then $12,000 in the years following the divorce.
The father now argues that the court erred in calculating child support payments by overemphasizing his yearly income, along with not taking into account the health insurance premiums he paid for the children. Considering the oldest two children had also left to go to college, the father argued that this change in living circumstances should alter his monthly payments to a lesser amount.
In its opinion, the court emphasized the ten statutory factors to be considered in calibrating child support. These factors include sources of income and assets of each parent, the earning ability of each parent, and the age and health of the child and each parent. Here, that means the question is whether the father’s income should continue to be imputed at $500,000 or if it should be lowered. The court determined that because there was a material change in the situation as two of the children went off to college, there must be a new assessment for monthly child support. Additionally, as the father’s yearly earnings have been dramatically lower than before the divorce, there can be a new imputation for determining the father’s income in relation to child support payments.
Because divorce proceedings and child support payments are extremely critical—and can be highly contentious—individuals going through such a legal battle should have an experienced divorce attorney on their side.
Contact a New Jersey Divorce Attorney
If you or a loved one is going through a New Jersey divorce—or is considering a modification of child support—contact the Law Office of Jeffrey R. Brown. With years of experience handling divorce cases, Attorney Brown will help to navigate any complex legal challenges you may face in New Jersey family law and divorce proceedings. We understand how emotionally stressful these matters can be, so we answer any questions you may have and ensure the matter is handled swiftly and efficiently. To schedule a no-obligation consultation today, call us at 732-613-0066.