If I Have Overpaid Child Support, May I Receive A Retroactive Credit?
Brick Child Support Lawyers Review Miscalculations, Over-payment, and Retroactive Credits
Monmouth and Ocean County Family Lawyers with offices conveniently located in Brick, and Sea Girt NJ
In most circumstances, child support payment amounts in New Jersey are determined based on a defined calculation utilizing financial information and other factors including the child custody and visitation agreement. While most lawyers and judges involved with matrimonial law matters have sufficient experience working with mathematical calculations necessary for child support or alimony obligations, not all individuals are mathematicians, and like the rest of us, occasionally make mistakes. Errors in calculation and implementation are not too uncommon. These mistakes may lead to the child support payor making larger than appropriate payments. There are many different scenarios which may lead to overpayments. What you need to do to correct these mistakes will differ depending on the nature of your over-payments, who is responsible for the miscalculation, and the timeliness that the issue is reported to the court once identified.
Common Mistakes Resulting in Miscalculation and Over-payment of Child Support in Ocean County
Overall, the child support modification process based on miscalculation and/or over payment can be an involved and fairly difficult legal circumstance. It is not uncommon for modification requests to be denied, even if an individual clearly over-payed. That is why it is very important to engage with an attorney who knows the laws, and has experience with the local county family courts so that they can provide educated counsel and set realistic expectations depending on the specifics of a particular circumstance.
Common situations may include:
- Misunderstanding of the terms of your agreement – sometimes over-payment can simply be an oversight on the paying party. In this case, the courts may consider how long this over-payment was made, whether the child support recipient knew about the over-payment, and more when determining how to correct the over-payment or payments.
- Mistakes made by the courts – clerical errors and other mistakes can and do occur during the child support calculation process.
- Paying beyond the termination date – termination of child support is dictated by several different reasons, but it is usually terminated on a pre-determined date or on the child’s 19th birthday.
What to do if I Overpaid Child Support in Monmouth County?
It is important to note that even if it is shown that child support was paid erroneously or in a greater degree than was just, it is unlikely that the payor will be reimbursed or that any retroactive actions will be taken. While this may initially seem unfair, it must be remembered that child support payments are meant to cover the costs of childcare.
According to New Jersey Revised Statutes section 2A:17-56.23A – Enforcement of Child Support Orders as Judgements; Prospective Modification of Orders: “No payment or installment of an order for child support, or those portions of an order which are allocated for child support established before or after the effective date of… shall be retroactively modified by the court”. Basically, New Jersey courts have taken the position that reimbursements of child support over-payments, except in some rare circumstance, will put the custodial in a difficult financial position, and as a result, negatively impact the child.
Though it is possible to have child support over-payments result in early termination of payments, and in some cases even reimbursement, the process often involves very complex legal action.
Timely Reporting a Child Support Payment Issue
If you find that you have been overpaying child support, it is important to contact a skilled child support attorney as soon as possible. The same also applies if you have been receiving an over-payment. The primary reason not to wait is the legal concept of laches, which refers to inactivity or lack of diligence leading to delayed legal action. Put simply, it has been successfully argued that child support over-payments will not be reimbursed because the paying party knew or should have known about the erroneous payments and failed to take action. On the other hand, remaining silent about over-payment can have consequences also.
Changed Circumstances: Reasons for Modifications of Child Support
The New Jersey court’s standard for modification of child support orders is “changed circumstances”. Either parent can file a motion with the court and ask the judge to grant relief by increasing or reducing the award. The “changed circumstances” have to be permanent, substantial, and unanticipated. If your circumstances are only temporary or if they haven’t yet occurred, your modification request will be denied.
Accepted reasons for seeking a child support amendment or modification include:
- increase in the cost of living
- increase or a decrease in the obligor’s income
- serious illness or disability to the payor after the court issued the original support award
- the payor lost a house or apartment
- the obligee has become employed or is earning more money, or
- changes in federal income tax laws
Contact our Sea Girt Child Support Attorneys Today
It is important to remember that if you are seeking any child support modification or amendment it is critical to seek an experienced and skilled child support and family law attorney.
At Bronzino Law Firm, we do not offer a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, we get to know each of our clients and their needs and concerns in any child custody case. We pride ourselves on keeping our clients informed and involved in the legal process, and being able to find creative and unique solutions to any child support issue.