Newly enacted laws in
change the standard for seeking modification of
To summarize simply, 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. While there were previously very few situations under which a party could seek modification of child support, the law now identifies specific circumstances under which modification may be sought. A party seeking modification of a support order need now demonstrate only a substantial change in circumstances to have occurred, even if the support order is based upon an agreement. Before, to entitle a party to seek modification of a support obligation set forth in an agreement, there had to be ashowing of an
unanticipated change of circumstances coupled with a financial hardship. In the absence of such a showing, the Courts routinely dismissed modification petitions.
In addition to this "substantial change in circumstances", the Courts will now entertain modification petitions 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.
The parties to an agreement of child support are permitted to 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.
The legislature has lowered the bar for parties seeking modification with less stringent requirements.