Inflation Challenges and Child Support Modifications
Inflation Reduces the Purchasing Power of Fixed Child Support Amounts, Making It Harder to Cover Everyday Expenses and Activities Crucial for Maintaining Children’s Lifestyles
Inflation is an economic condition marked by rising prices, specifically, goods and services growing more expensive than in previous years. The Consumer Price Index measures price increases over a set period. By reviewing prices consumers pay for ordinary goods and services compared to other years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates inflation rates. Ultimately, inflation means you can afford less with your income. The United States’ inflation rate has risen over the last few years, so daily consumption of ordinary items such as gas, food, and other things costs more.
Maintaining Your Children’s Lifestyle Amidst Inflation
Everyday expenditures on goods and services include rent, mortgages, food, real estate, metals, utilities, fuel, energy, daycare, clothing, entertainment, healthcare, and other essentials and non-essentials you may be used to, such as school lunches, music lessons or sports club fees for your kids. With inflation, these items are more challenging to obtain with salaries that have not risen with inflation. So, when you depend on child support to maintain your children’s lifestyle, inflation decreases your buying power and, thus, your ability to keep your children in the activities they enjoy when support amounts stay the same during an inflationary period.
Unfortunately, however, inflation affects the lives of not only those receiving the support but also those paying for it. So, even though you may feel like an upward modification of child support is necessary to maintain a lifestyle or to pay for necessities, inflation is not reason enough for a change in family court. In other words, inflation is not an automatic justification for a trip to court. You still need to support your need with evidence.
Factors Influencing Child Support Adjustments in NJ
Typical changes of circumstance warranting child support modifications include job loss, pay increase, pay decrease, or change in employment. Also, family member health issues, a new birth, new childcare responsibilities, childcare expense changes, and altered child-sharing time between parents are reasons for increased or decreased child support.
Modifications reflect that child support payments are calculations that cover children’s needs. So, education, health, extracurricular activities, clothing, food, transportation money, and childcare, to name a few items in maintaining a child and their wellbeing, are items covered by child support. However, children’s needs change as they grow, requiring more money to cover additional costs, like driving school fees or travel expenses for school or sports trips. At the same time, one or both parents lose jobs, get raises, get sick, or reduce work hours to accommodate children or aging parents. Life events affect the support necessary to care for children.
As such, child support modifications are allowed by law to adjust according to a change of circumstances requiring an upward or downward revision to a child support award. Inflation may cause a change in circumstances. In addition, New Jersey’s Rule 5:6B requires courts to review child support orders every other year to adjust for cost-of-living increases or decreases based on the Consumer Price Index’s statistical changes for each metropolis. But should the cost of necessary items like food, clothing, healthcare, or gas go up to affect the affordability of these items, a court may also consider adjusting child support to cover the increase.
Justifying a Child Support Modification Due to Inflation in New Jersey
Since child support modifications are justifiable when there is a change in circumstances affecting the payor’s ability to pay or the monetary needs of maintenance and education of the children increase, inflation may be a circumstance change warranting child support modifications. Besides, employers may compensate employees to cover the cost of inflation, so each family situation is unique. You will have to prove each element supporting a modification for changed circumstances.
If you need more child support to cover your child’s needs, a court will modify child support. However, you must prove that the child support payment you receive is substantially insufficient to cover your child’s needs, not just temporarily but over a long period. For example, when the parent receiving support payment gets cancer and must leave their job to undergo a yearlong treatment, a child support increase may be to make up the deficit of a second income and to cover increased childcare costs while the sick parent convalesces.
Once the court agrees the necessity for a modification exists, it will modify upward or downward based on New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines consider the family standard of living, each parent’s income or earning ability, debts and assets of each party, and medical costs. The requesting party bears the burden of proving the guideline criteria.
Expert Advice and Necessary Documentation for Child Support Modifications Based on Rising Prices
In all, as life circumstances change, a child support adjustment to accommodate those changes may be in order. A sure way to determine whether you qualify for a child support increase is to consult a family law attorney. And when you do, be prepared to detail your circumstances with income and expenses, child support history, salaries or wages for each parent, and child expenses. A judge looks at the total picture to decide whether an increase is necessary.
Financial history is especially significant when you claim that inflationary costs of essentials to feed, clothe, transport, and entertain your children have reached a point of unaffordability, given your income, reasonable expenses, and the child support amount. A court may find a compelling reason to increase support to fulfill your children’s needs during steep inflation and a long-standing child support order that has stayed the same for a long time.
How a Lawyer can Assist with Navigating Inflation-Related Child Support Issues in NJ
At Montanari Law Group, our family lawyers can advise you, given the total picture of your income, expenses, and inflation, whether a child support modification is necessary due to inflationary costs of essentials. When you hire an attorney at our Little Falls law office to represent you in a child support modification hearing, you can be sure that we will have the evidence in documents, testimony, and research to present to and convince a judge that an upward modification is the right decision.
Since court hearings require knowledge of the procedural rules and laws, having a knowledgeable child support lawyer is your greatest chance at success in court. Make an appointment or call (973) 233-4396 for a free consultation to talk to a family law attorney on our team regarding your child support modification in Clifton, West Orange, Montclair, Elmwood Park, Paramus, or elsewhere in Passaic County and North New Jersey neighboring towns.