Modification of Child Support

I have previously written about the custody and parenting time issues that may be presented when a child is moved from state to state within the country.  But what of child support?

In an interesting recent unpublished decision, Flynn v. Flynn, the New Jersey Appellate Division examined the question: in a case where multiple

As noted by Robert Epstein in his blog post from earlier today, issues surrounding jurisdiction are often complicated and fact-specific.  Luckily, in the recent published decision (precedential) Johnson v. Bradshaw, the Court was able to draw a clear line regarding jurisdiction over support orders for parties that no longer reside in New Jersey.

The

In this economy, you would be surprised to see how many judges are jaded by applications brought by supporting spouses to reduce their support obligations based upon a reduction in income. After all, some judges entertain these applications on their daily docket and oftentimes see supporting spouses who are simply attempting to capitalize on the down economy and lack any actual merit to their cases. This blog post will explore one of the reactions by judges to this type of application; namely, denying the request of the supporting spouse outright without even holding a hearing, taking testimony, and making credibility findings.

Support obligations are always modifiable by the family court upon application of the supporting spouse.  Typically, this type of application requires the supporting spouse to make a threshold prima facie showing that “changed circumstances have substantially impaired the ability to support himself or herself.” Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139, 157 (1980). When such a showing is made, the Court must next determine if a plenary hearing is warranted. This is sometimes referred to as the two-step Lepis analysis.


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With the economic downturn and slow down in the economy since 2008, there has been a lot more post-judgment litigation to reduce alimony and child support. Much of this litigation has been legitimate; other has been brought by opportunists, throwing around buzzwords and crying about the economy when there is really no substantial change of

An interesting decision on the issue of support modifications came down last week from the Appellate Division in the unpublished (not precedential) matter of Schechter v. Shechter.  There, the husband in 2004 agreed via settlement to pay child support and 12 years of limited duration alimony.  In July 2010, he filed a motion to modify his support

We have in the past blogged on cases which have been decided involving applications for a modification of support obligations based upon economic changes in circumstances. While the vast majority of these have been related to decreases in income due to the current economic times, there are other reasons why a request for a change might

What happens when an asset divided in equitable distribution really isn’t worth what you think it was?  That was an issue in the Simkin case that I have blogged about in the past about involving the Madoff investment account.  I even participated in a pod cast on this case. It was also an issue in the Andrews

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve seen many a post about changes in circumstances and modifications of support obligations.  In fact, Apple Sulit-Paralejo in our Atlantic City office recently published a post on the Ferstenfeld decision. The thing is with changed circumstances,  in this economic climate and job market, it is a popular topic for courts and new decisions are being delivered on a fairly frequent basis.

Today’s post is about proving the change in circumstances and stems from the unpublished Appellate Division decision of Romito v. Romito, A-0486-09, decided March 29, 2011. This appeal came from an Essex county trial court decision made after Mr. Romito filed what was at least his second motion to reduce his alimony and child support obligations stemming from a 2002 divorce and property settlement agreement.

Mr. Romito’s application was supported by his Certification attesting to the failure of his remaining businesses and a sworn statement of his ability to earn $52,000/yr working for a friend’s business, similar to what he had previously operated.  It was also supported by a current Case Information Statement and copies of income tax returns.  Part of the relief sought was a hearing pursuant to Lepis v. Lepis, to prove the changed circumstances.

Ms. Romito filed a cross motion in response opposing this application and seeking other forms of economic and additional relief.  Her application was supported by a Certification attesting that she and the children were in desperate financial straits due to Mr. Romito’s failure to pay his support obligations and his unfair competition with her business.  She attested that Mr. Romito owned the business of his friend that he claimed to only work at and that he was concealing income and living a lifestyle inconsistent with his alleged reduced economic circumstances.  It was also supported by her current Case Information Statement, tax returns and proof of expenses that were not paid.

In response, Mr. Romito denied the allegations made in the cross motion and attested that Ms. Romito’s economic problems were of her own doing and stemmed from her inability to profitably run the business.  He proposed that if Ms. Romito would agree to turn the Montclair office over to him, he’d pay her $2,000/month in alimony (still a reduction from the parties’ agreement but more than he’d been paying).


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In these economic times we have seen an increase in our practice of post divorce applications seeking a downward modification of a former spouse’s support obligation(s).  These applications apply to both spousal support or alimony as well as child support.

NJ courts are all to familiar with these applications as there exists an entire body of case law that guides judges, attorneys and litigants alike in the burden of proof that must be established and the standard to meet in order to successfully seek the modification or defend against one.

Recently, the Appellate Court addressed this issue once again in the unpublished decision of O’Brien v. O’Brien, A-6045-08T1 decided November 10, 2010.  This matter stemmed from an appeal of the trial court’s Orders emancipating one of the parties’ 4 children and reducing defendant-husband’s child support obligation.


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