Divorce FAQ's

Is there still a legal right to the triennial review of child support?

1. My child support was last determined in 2002, I heard that I have a right to have it reviewed again after three years?

Maybe, the key issue is whether your child support was paid by your husband directly to you, or collected by probation. If your child support is collected by probation then you don’t have a legal right to have your child support reviewed automatically every three years. This was the law in the past, but it is no longer. The old law provided that:

At least once every three years, unless the State has developed an automated cost-of-living adjustment program for child support payments, the parties subject to a Title IV-D support order shall be provided notice of their right to request a review….. Such review shall take not account any changes in the financial situation or related circumstances of both parties and whether the order of child support is in full compliance with the child support guidelines.

In summary, if a child support award is paid directly to the dependent spouse, then the three year right of review is still applicable. However, if the child support account is paid through probation, then there is no mandatory right of review every three years.

2. I have my child support paid through probation. Do I have a right to have it reviewed every three years?

No, you don’t have the right to have your child support award re-evaluated every three years if it is collected through probation. The case of Stein v. Mamolen, held that the automatic cost of living adjustments or COLA adjustments eliminated the right to have a triennial review. Accordingly, the in the Appellate Division affirmed the family court’s denial of the defendant’s contention that he was entitled to a three year review of his child support obligation.

Another illustrative case is Martin v. Martin, 410 N.J. Super 1 (Ch. Div. 2009). Here, the court held that Rule 5:6B provides that all child support orders entered, modified or enforced are automatically adjusted every two years, subject to exceptions, to reflect a cost of living adjustment (“COLA”) based upon the consumer price index. Rule 5:6B, when read in conjunction with N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.9a, thus eliminates the need for any triennial review of any child support orders.

Nonetheless, person still has the right to file a motion for an increase of child support based on the Lepis change of circumstances standards.  Alternatively, the payor spouse can also contest any COLA adjustments by requesting an administrative hearing. The procedure is that both parties are provided with notice of the proposed COLA adjustment and the opportunity to object to it within thirty days.