To most in Hackensack, the word "cola" is associated with a refreshing drink. Yet bring it up with some of the clients that our team here at Melinda L Singer, Esquire has worked with, and they may shudder. That typically has less to do with their beverage preferences than it does the circumstances of their divorce agreements. If you are just beginning to fulfill the terms of such an agreement (specifically in regards to a child custody obligation), then you may soon understand their feelings.
You might naturally assume that the amount that you owe in child support cannot be changed without the input of either you or your ex-spouse. In most circumstances, you would be right. Yet there is one exception to this rule: COLA. This stands for cost of living adjustment, and it is a factor the courts in New Jersey use to determine what amount you need to pay in order to continue meeting your children's needs.
According to the New Jersey State Judiciary, your child support will be reviewed every two years to take into account the increases in the standard cost of living that have occurred during that time. If necessary, the court may then choose to automatically increase your payments to accommodate them. Cost of living increases are determined by reviewing the average change in the Consumer Price Index that has occurred in all of the state's metropolitan statistical areas.
It is required that you be notified 30 days prior to a cost of living adjustment occurring. You may contest it if your divorce agreement establishes its own adjustment schedule, or if you are able to show that your income has not increased at the same rate of inflation.
More information on modifying your child support obligation can be found here on our site.