We don’t want you to look FOOLISH on April Fool’s Day — or any other time of the year.
Here are three foolish mistakes regarding support issues in New Jersey:
Fool #1: “My spouse cheated on me. Of course, the court cares about all the sordid and sultry details, so I get more alimony and child support, right?”
A lot of people mistakenly think that if their spouse cheats on them, they’ll gain more in the divorce settlement: more alimony, more distribution of assets, more child support or more time with the kids.
Sorry, none of those things are true.
The only limited circumstance when a cheating spouse may benefit your distribution of assets is when the cheater has dissipated the marital estate in favor of the new relationship — that’s things like buying the new girlfriend a house or a car, or spending an exorbitant amount of martial funds taking the person out to dinner on on trips, or buying gifts like watches and jewelry.
Bottom line: A judge won’t award you more in your distribution even if your spouse has cheated.
Back in the 1950s, if a woman cheated on her husband, that could have been grounds for her not to receive alimony.
However, that was more than 60 years ago, and it won’t have an impact on the award now.
Fool #2: “My mortgage, car payment and utilities have gone up. Surely I’m entitled to more child support, right?”
Child support has nothing to do with your individual lifestyle, so if your mortgage payment or other bills have gone up, you can’t return to court to seek an increase in your child support payment.
Every three years, the state of New Jersey conducts a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), which is designed to cover incidental increases like mortgage or car payments, or utilities.
Bottom line: Other than that automatic COLA, you can’t go to court to score more money from your ex-spouse.
However, the law does allow the court to reevaluate a child support agreement when there’s a change in circumstances, typically when someone’s income has gone up, either from getting a raise or gaining a better position.
(As a side note, if you’re receiving alimony or child support and your income decreases, your support payments could increase if the payor’s income has remained the same.)
That’s when you can say, “Hey, things have definitely changed here, and I think we can go in to ask a judge for an increase.”
Fool #3: “Dad hasn’t paid his child support. I can limit his parenting time if I want to, right?”
Despite the popular misconception, child support payments and parenting time aren’t exclusively linked.
So if a deadbeat dad or mom doesn’t pay child support, they still have parenting time with your kids pursuant to whatever custody and visitation order exists.
The court won’t punish a parent who doesn’t pay child support by cutting off access to their children.
Bottom line: It’s not an amusement park. You don’t need to pay the ticket to ride the ride. Whether you paid your support or not, you get to see your kid. Discontinuing parenting time until the bill is paid in full isn’t in the kids’ best interests.