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Impact of VA Disability on Child Support and Alimony in New Jersey

In the recent New Jersey Appellate Division decision of Ortiz v. Ortiz, the Court ruled that qualification for VA disability may justify modification of child support and alimony obligations. In the matter Ortiz v. Ortiz, the party paying support achieved a 40 percent VA disability rating and the Court found this sufficient to open the case up for review and a potential downward modification of child support and spousal support.

While the law has long provided that financial misfortune may create a basis to review and possibly modify ongoing child support and alimony obligations, this is one of the first New Jersey opinions specifically addressing qualification for VA disability. Previously the focus was mainly on job loss or illness. This new decision means that a service member who experiences a change in their VA rating may be entitled to have their child support and alimony obligation modified and possibly reduced with matters venued in New Jersey.

Military personnel who experience an injury or disability related to their service may be eligible for a form of compensation known as Veterans Administration Disability. The disability is evaluated through an administrative process and can vary on a scale from zero to 100 percent, 100 percent meaning you are totally disabled. It is very common for military personnel to apply for an increase in his/her disability rating. According to the Ortiz decision, in the state of NJ this is now specifically recognized as a basis to go back to Court and adjust child support and/or spousal support.

If you believe that you qualify for a reduction in support, consultation with a competent family law attorney is recommended. In your consultation, your attorney can advise you whether other factors could cause your support to increase, the opposite of what you intend to accomplish. In other words, a family law attorney will be able to prepare preliminary guidelines and projections and provide the information you need to decide whether to go to court.

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