Daily headlines are filled with stories of layoffs and dismal unemployment rates as our economy continues to flounder. People are finding it harder to meet their financial obligations as they face pay cuts or worse – loss of wages. Recognizing our current difficult financial environment, the New Jersey State Senate recently passed a bill that could ease child support obligations for the newly unemployed. (1) If, after reading the following, you need assistance with child support issues, particularly in Hunterdon County, contact the family law attorneys at The Rotolo Law Firm in Lebanon, N.J.
The State Senate on February 16 unanimously approved a bill that would enable people who have experienced a significant change in employment to petition the court for a reduction in their alimony and child support obligations. A “significant change” has been defined as having their wages reduced significantly or being unemployed for more than six months. (1)
New Jersey family courts have long had the authority to reduce support payments in the event of changed financial circumstances under common law. The new bill, however, makes this authority official. (2)
Support payments, particularly child support, are financial obligations that New Jersey courts take seriously. Consequences for failure to pay can include garnishment of wages, interception of tax refunds, adverse reports to credit bureaus and confiscation of assets. Failure of payment can also result in revocation of driver’s licenses and professional licenses, which would affect the ability to work; suspension of a passport, restricting a person’s ability to travel; and a lien on real estate, which would prohibit a person from selling or refinancing a home. Further failure to pay could result in jail time. (3)
While the new bill could make things a little easier for those making the support payments, it obviously does not help the receiving parent who is still faced with the financial obligations of raising the children. To help eliminate the possibility of people using this change to avoid their financial responsibilities to their children, the bill stipulates that judges could refuse to grant a reduction in payments if the obligated party refused to make “reasonable efforts” to find employment or deliberately turned down income in order to avoid his or her obligations. (1)
If you or someone you know needs assistance with child support or alimony issues, particularly in Hunterdon County, contact the family law attorneys at The Rotolo Law Firm located in Lebanon, N.J.