Importance of Supplying an Updated Case Information Statement When Applying to Modify Child Support

Curreri v. Curreri

Docket No. A-1277-18T2

Decided September 22, 2020

Submitted by New Jersey Divorce Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

In a recent unpublished decision the Appellate Division reviewed a trial court’s ruling denying an application to modify child support, and denying a request for the defendant to supply an updated case information statement (CIS).

In Curreri, on June 2, 2001, the parties were married. In 2002, the parties’ first and only child, a daughter, was born. The parties divorced on April 29, 2003, and a final judgment of divorce was entered, which incorporated by reference the parties’ property settlement agreement (PSA). The PSA established child support obligation for defendant, which the agreement stipulated was calculated using the then-existing New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. The PSA stipulated that the existing arrangement would remain in place until April 16, 2005, after which the parties “may review the then[-]existing child support order for the purpose of recalculating said obligation based upon the then[-]existing circumstances of the parties.”

The parties entered into various consent orders throughout the years.  Eventually the latest consent order required the parties to utilize a parenting coordinator for disputes.  The parenting coordinator drafted a proposed consent order, but defendant refused to sign it. Plaintiff filed a motion to enforce the settlement, require defendant to supply an updated CIS, and argued that because thirteen years had passed since the last child support order that that alone was enough to modify child support based on changed circumstances.

The trial court ruled that the mere passage of time does not require a recalculation of child support, especially when the child support order is subject to every other year cost of living adjustments (COLAs).  The judge did, however, rule that there were additional extracurricular expenses incurred outside of the child support that the parties were to be equally responsible for.  The defendant failing to sign the consent order was a valid part of the judicial process. The judge denied the cross applications for attorney’s fees as well.

Plaintiff appealed, and the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s decision, noting the trial court properly found that plaintiff had not met the burden of a prima facie showing of changed circumstances and did not require defendant to supply an updated CIS.

This case is important for the use of consent orders when coming to agreements for financial obligations.  The agreements must be clear, in writing, and preferably filed with the court.  Without a signed agreement, it is very difficult to seek a modification.  Further, once an agreement is in writing, to seek a modification, one has to demonstrate a significant non-temporary change in circumstances.  As seen above, you need to show more than just the passage of time in order to obtain a modification of child support.

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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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