Some of you may have read or heard about the tragic case in Mercer County in which a father was unsuccessful in his application to reduce child support for his daughter and he then shot the mother of his child, her husband, who was killed, and then killed himself. To see the news report, click here www.nj.com/news/times/regional/index.ssf The transcript of the court appearance was obtained by the press, and to me, based in the news accounts, it appears is clear that the court properly denied the request at the time the Judge was reviewing the matter. It seems that the court was simply faced with a situation in which it appears that the Judge did not have information (assuming it existed, which we may never know) in order to reduce support.
As we have stated on many occasions, the present economy has spawned many applications to reduce support. What’s more, the courts are not necessarily consistent in the outcome of these applications. However, a few things are clear. When bringing an application to reduce or terminate a support obligation on the basis of a reduced, it is absolutely critical to present a case in which the obligor ( the person paying the support) can clearly demonstrate, with detail, that he or she has made all reasonable efforts to obtain employment which would return the income to the prior levels. This includes presenting a copy of a log, or other evidence of a job search. Simply posting a resume on Monster.com is not going to suffice. Additionally, there needs to be proof that the obligor does not have assets from which to pay his or her support obligations, at least on a temporary basis. An obligor has to show that he or she has suffered a reduction in “lifestyle.” as a result of the loss or decrease in income. It can’t be expected that a reduction will be granted when the obligor did not give up the weekly dinner at an exclusive restaurant, or the summer vacation. Finally, it may be necessary to demonstrate that jobs in another field are not a reasonable avenue. Some jobs may never come back and a court will want to see what efforts have been made to adjust careers. Judges want to know all of this before they cut support, so be prepared to provide the information.