If the payor experiences a positive change, the payee can request an increase in child support and the child support orders may be modified upon a prima facie showing of changed circumstances. However, the purpose of spousal support is to maintain the former marital standard of living if possible; therefore, an increase in the payor’s income may not warrant an increase in his or her spousal support obligation.
The Court recognizes that children have an independent right to be supported by both parents in accordance with the parenting income and ability to pay. Therefore, the hurdle to seek a review of child support based on a change in circumstances is easier to obtain than an increase in alimony.
A motion may be made to the Court for a review of child support based on the changed circumstances. The judge or hearing officer will require the parties to disclose their financial information for the recalculation of support. A hearing officer is specially trained to calculate, enter, and enforce child support orders. A decree from a hearing office may be immediately appealed to a judge if either party is dissatisfied with the hearing officer’s ruling.
Michele E. D’Onofrio is a family law attorney practicing in Warren, New Jersey.