Can Incarceration Be Cause to Modify or Terminate Child Support?

Child Support Lawyers Assist Clients in Little Falls, Woodland Park, Wayne, Paterson and across Passaic and Essex Counties

Can Incarceration Be Cause to Modify or Terminate Child Support?
In New Jersey and across the United States, child support obligations are one of the primary issues dealt with by family law courts when a marriage or relationship ends between people who have children, whether it be my consensual agreement or court order. However, after the entry of a child support obligation, there are several situations or circumstances that can occur that may warrant a modification of that child support obligation. One specific issue is the incarceration of the noncustodial parent. Regrettably, the courts have not been consistent in its ruling on the issue of amendments and modifications for child support when a noncustodial parent is unable to pay due to incarceration.

It´s highly recommended to pay close attention to all the terms you agreed on signing your child support documents and understand all the details regarding your terms otherwise, you may end up spending some time in prison, which under all circumstances is something you don´t want to happen. At The Montanari Law Group, we have the expertise to guide you in a way all terms are clearly established and have the advice you need to face your situation in a well-informed way. If you have questions regarding any child support matter, contact us online or by phone today at (973) 233-4396 for a free consultation.

Reasons for Modifications of Child Support in Passaic County

Though there are some inconsistencies about whether or not incarceration of a noncustodial parent qualifies for modifications to a child support judgment, there are some reasons that clearly qualify as reasons for the modification of an existing child support arrangement. These include

  • Increase in responsibilities for the minor: As children age, their needs may increase. A custodial parent may seek additional child support to assist in offsetting the costs associated with aging children.
  • Decrease of income: in cases where one parent has lost their primary income and, as such, may be either unable to meet their child support obligation or a primary caretaker might seek an increase in support because they are unable to support the child on the amount paid with the current support order.
  • Increase of familiar responsibilities: A non-custodial parent may have more children or marry/remarry substantially changing their financial situation.
  • Substantial increase in income: If an obligor has become the beneficiary of a large sum of money, a custodial parent may consider petitioning the court for an increase in child support responsibilities.

Any change to an existing child support arrangement can be an extended and complicated process. For this reason, when seeking any child support modification it is crucial that you seek the advice of an experienced and skilled family law attorney.

Representative Cases for Child Support Modification in New Jersey

When it comes to this issue, there are two leading cases in New Jersey. In Halliwell v. Halliwell, 326 N.J. Super. 442 (App. Div. 1999), the defendant sought the termination of his child support obligation due to the fact that he was incarcerated out of state, in Ohio, and had no ability to pay during the time of his incarceration. In this case, the Appellate Division held that a court may suspend an imprisoned obligor’s child support obligation, while essentially deferring adjudication of any motion to decrease until the obligor was no longer incarcerated.  In essence, the obligor’s support obligation would continue to accrue, but there would be no enforcement of that obligation. Moreover, the obligor could not be held in violation of litigant’s rights for as long as he or she remained incarcerated.

However, in Kuron v. Hamilton, 331 N.J. Super. 561 (App. Div. 2000), the Appellate Division reviewed a case involving a child support obligor who had been disbarred from the practice of law and was facing a potentially long prison term.  In that particular case, the Appellate Division found that incarceration was not akin to a voluntary act prohibiting relief from a child support obligation.  Accordingly, the Appellate Division held that the process of assessing and enforcing financial obligations is meant to be an evaluation and analysis of all equitable considerations which emanate from each specific case and all of the specific facts and circumstances surrounding that case.  In short, applications for termination or modification of child support based upon incarceration of the obligor should be treated on a case by case basis.

Child Support Attorneys Providing Counsel to Clients in need of or facing Modification or Termination Claims

The family law attorneys at The Montanari Law Group have years of experience working with clients in Clifton, Wayne, Little Falls, Patterson, West Milford, Woodland Park and all over Passaic County. Contact our attorneys in Passaic County at (973) 233-4396 to speak with an experienced NJ family law attorney about your case.


To speak with one of our highly knowledgeable attorneys, contact us today at (973)-233-4396 or toll-free at (888)-877-7985. You can also complete the form below to begin your conversation. We are a personalized, boutique-style law firm that offers free initial consultations and flexible appointment options.