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Requesting a Triennial Review of Child Support

Requesting a triennial review of your child support isn't always a good idea.  The fact is that a triennial review of your child support could also work against you.

The calculation of child support is one of the most significant issues in family law matters. The New Jersey Court Rules detail the complicated formula for calculating child support based on incomes, parenting arrangements and, in some cases, extraordinary expenses for a child as approved by the Court. Much time and effort is often spent on the important matter of calculating child support for the first time. The first calculation can have a major influence how a judge handles a later request to modify child support. 

New Jersey law provides for review of child support in several situations. One of the most common ways to have child support reviewed by a judge is to show facts have changed since child support was last calculated. The judge can then determine whether it is appropriate to modify child support based on the new facts. There is also a provision in New Jersey law for child support to be automatically subject to review at least every three years, known as "triennial review." Determining whether you should ask for triennial review of child support can be tricky.

When child support is paid through the Probation Department, it is subject to cost of living adjustments. Parents paying or receiving child support through the Probation Department are no doubt familiar with "COLA" notices, which usually change child support by no more than a few dollars per week. Cost of living adjustments have almost entirely replaced automatic triennial reviews.

Some parents who receive cost of living adjustments to child support, however, may also receive a notice from the Probation Department for triennial review. These notices are typically sent to both the parent paying support and the parent receiving support. The notice asks whether either parent wishes to have support reviewed. It is up to each parent to then respond and either decline or request review. If a review is requested, the parent is also asked to provide relevant information, including why review of child support is appropriate.

Most parents, however, are not familiar with how complicated the calculation of child support can be. For example, a parent may assume a change in his or her situation would decrease child support, but other facts may cause child support to increase. An attorney who routinely handles child support matters can discuss how different facts impact child support, and can explain the probability of child support increasing or decreasing. If you are considering requesting a triennial review of child support, it is important to get sound advice from an experienced family law attorney before taking the next step.

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