It is not unusual for a parent to claim that they are paying too much in child support or for a parent to claim that they are not receiving enough child support. In recent celebrity news, Robert Kardashian is claiming the former. According to an article in People Magazine, Mr. Kardashian claims that he can no longer afford his $20,000 per month child support payments to Blac Chyna, the mother of his child, and he is asking for a modification in his child support obligation. He also claims that his volatile relationship with Blac Chyna and the domestic violence complaint that she filed against him last year damaged his career and is preventing him from earning money. Mr. Kardashian claims that his monthly income has been reduced from nearly $100,000 per month to less than $10,000 per month since their split as he is no longer appearing on episodes of Keeping up With the Kardashians. He claims, however, that Ms. Chyna’s monthly income has increased, and that her monthly income is nearly $60,000.00. Mr. Kardashian is asking that Ms. Chyna pay him child support of $2,864 per month on behalf of their daughter, Dream, with whom he shares equal custody and parenting time. According to the article, Mr. Kardashian and Ms. Chyna are in the process of exchanging financial documents.
I have blogged before about calculating child support in high income cases, including a blog about another celebrity, Angelina Jolie, seeking “Meaningful Child Support” in which I pointed out that child support orders are modifiable, even in high income cases. The seminal case in New Jersey on modification of support obligations is Lepis v. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139, 151 (1980), which allows for a potential modification of support based on “changed circumstances”. Among the changed circumstances that can result in a review or modification of child support obligations is a decline in the income of the parent who is paying child support. Conversely, the parent paying child support is entitled to a reconsideration of child support where there has been a significant change for the better in the circumstances of the parent receiving child support. A change for the better or worse in one of the parent’s incomes is not the only kind of change in circumstance that a court can consider. For instance, maturation of the child may result in a modification of support, some change in the need of the child, or some change in overnight parenting time arrangements. The change in support should not, however, be only temporary.
Either parent can file a motion to increase or decrease child support.The party seeking to modify support (either to increase child support or decrease it) bears the burden of establishing a threshold (a “prima facie”) case of changed circumstances. Lepis, 83 N.J. 139 (1980). If the moving party does not establish at least a threshold burden, then the moving party will lose. If that “prima facie” case of changed circumstance is presented, however, then the court will order the parties to exchange documents as to their financial circumstances and the needs of the child. If there is a substantial issue of genuine fact that is in dispute, the court may order a hearing or trial, but will not do so in all cases.