Are You Getting Your Cost of Living Child Support Adjustment?
If you are receiving child support in New Jersey, you should be aware of the fact that you are eligible for a periodic cost of living adjustment (COLA).
This adjustment is based on the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures the rate of inflation. (Unfortunately, the CPI rarely goes down).
The reason for COLAs is simple: as prices go up, the existing amount of child support may no longer be enough.
New Jersey family law allows a child support order to be adjusted every two years, to reflect changes in the cost of living. If child support is paid through Probation, very often that agency will initiate the COLA process. If not, or Probation does not do so, the child support recipient should apply to the court for a COLA.
The child support obligor can contest the adjustment can contest the COLA on only two grounds: (1) that the obligor’s income has not increased at a rate at least equal to the proposed COLA; or (2) that the Order or Judgment provides for a different COLA.
The New Jersey Appellate Division’s Decision on August 16, 2012 in the case of Gerstenschlager v. Gerstenschalger added an important clarification to the COLA process.
The Gerstenschlager Court ruled that the COLA can be made retroactive. In other words, if the CPI has increased, the child support increase should be effective as of the date of the CPI increase, rather than the date of the Order for the child support increase. The Court reasoned that: “If child support was adjusted only every second year, it would decrease in real dollar terms every year that the adjustment was not made.”
In some cases, this distinction could mean significantly more money for child support recipients.
Salvaggio Law Group LLC devotes its entire practice to New Jersey Divorce and Family Law matters, including those relating to child support.
If you want to talk, please call us at (973) 455-1220 or fill out the Contact Form on our website.