Effective October 13, 2010, all newly signed stipulations and Court orders pertaining to child support are subject to new standards with regard to modification of child support. Where there were previously very limited circumstances under which a party could seek modification of child support, the law now creates three different circumstances under which modification may be sought. The new statutes provide that Court can modify an order of support upon "a showing of substantial change in circumstances", even if the support order is based upon an agreement. Further, the statute has been modified to state that incarceration would not be a bar to seeking modification as a substantial change in circumstances unless the incarceration is the result of nonpayment of a child support order, or an offense against the custodial parent or child who is the subject of the order or judgment.
In addition to this "substantial change in circumstances", the Courts now have the authority to modify an order of support if (a) three years have passed since the order of support was entered, last modified or adjusted; or (b) there has been a change in either party's gross income by 15% or more since the order of support has been entered, last modified or adjusted. Downward modification based upon a reduction in income will be considered only if the party's alleged reduction in income was involuntary and there have been diligent attempts to secure employment commensurate with his or her education, ability and experience.
In an agreement of child support, the parties can opt out of this new law, but must do so in writing in a validly executed agreement.
These new rules pertaining to modification of support apply only to orders of support entered on or after 10/13/10, or to agreements signed after 10/13/10 if the agreements are incorporated by reference but not merged with the support order.
If you have questions regarding how these new laws pertaining to modification of support may affect you, please consult with an experienced matrimonial and family law attorney.