Divorcing with minor children in New Jersey means a much more complicated end to your marriage. The courts have to determine the best way to split up the custody of your children. They also have to fairly split the financial obligations your children generate by ordering the parents with higher income or less parenting time to contribute child support.

As a parent with more parenting time who receives child support payments, you probably already know that what you receive comes nowhere close to covering the cost your children create every month. When you are in a situation where the expenses related to your children suddenly go up drastically, you may find yourself wondering if you can request more child support.

Child support figures reflect your family’s financial reality

When you first file for divorce with minor children, the person filing has to provide financial information to the courts about both parents’ incomes and expenses incurred in the care of the children.

Children with special needs may have higher educational, health care or child care expenses. Toddlers and young children may require less financial support than teenagers who need to fit in with their peers and have expensive extracurricular pursuits, although child care costs could offset that reduction.

When the financial circumstances for your family change, you potentially have the right to request a child support modification. If your ex’s income goes up, if your income goes down or if your expenses for the children increase in a provable manner, you can potentially request more child support. However, the courts will make a determination based on both your current financial circumstances and whether they view the request to be appropriate and reasonable.

Modifications can stem from necessary expenses, not frivolous indulgences

Requesting an increase in child support due to an increase in expenses will require some documentation that the expenses are necessary and critical. You can’t ask the courts to force your ex to cover half of the cost of the fantastic “Sweet 16” party you intend to throw for your daughter.

However, if your child has provable medical expenses or increased child care expenses, the court may consider a modification in that situation. For example, if your oldest child needs braces, followed by an appliance to help expand their jaw and then additional orthodontia, you could be looking at thousands of dollars per year in expenses.

If the orthodontia is purely cosmetic in nature and your ex refuses to contribute, then you may have an uphill battle. However, many times, extensive orthodontia needs reflect a potential health condition that could worsen if the child does not have appropriate care. Long-term consequences, such as headaches and improperly formed bones could make braces medically necessary.

In that case, even if your ex doesn’t want to pay, the courts might determine that your child needs braces and that your ex should contribute some amount toward that additional expense.