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Can I reduce my N.J. child support obligation by going back to school?

Posted by Matt Rooney | Aug 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

The short answer? No. Not in New Jersey.

back to school

The unpublished (and therefore non-binding) Appellate Division decision in Zavaglia v. Bray is instructive. Long story short, a father appealed an order of the Mercer County Superior Court denying his application to reduce his child support obligation after he quit his job to enroll in online college courses. In its decision upholding the trial court's ruling, the two-judge panel explained that “ plaintiff failed to offer sufficient proof as to why he should be relieved of his obligation to ‘not . . . disregard [his] pre-existing duty to provide support,'” noting that the father's decision was both voluntary and temporary. We've written extensively about what it takes to modify a child support obligation — higher or lower — here at the DeMichele & DeMichele legal blog. If the change is voluntary or temporary, in almost all circumstances, a New Jersey family court will throw the brakes on your attempt to modify support (child and spousal). As was the case in Zavaglia v. Bray, going back to school was something the Court concluded was voluntary notwithstanding the payor father's argument that his attempts at self-improvement would improve his capacity, in the long-run, to pay child support. Consequently, the appellate judges found no “change in circumstances,” per the landmark Lepis decision, which could justify reviewing the father's modification application.

Do you have questions about your New Jersey child support case? Help is only a quick phone call or e-mail away. We're here to walk you through the process and achieve a best-case outcome given the facts of your case. If you have any questions regarding the determination of income for child support, or family court matters generally in New Jersey, please  contact us online today or call  (856) 546-1350 for a confidential consultation with one of our skilled family court lawyers.

About the Author

Matt Rooney

Practice Areas: Family Law (including Divorce, Alimony, Child Support, and Domestic Violence); Municipal Court; Personal Injury; Residential Real Estate; Civil Litigation; Collections.


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