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Cost of Living Increases for Child Support in New Jersey

COLAMay I please have a COLA with my child support order? Well …. not a Coke or Pepsi Cola but a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).

Child Support orders that are entered, modified, or enforced after September 1, 1998 are subject to a cost of living increase (COLA) every two years.  The child support COLA is pursuant to Court Rule 5:6B  Cost-Of-Living Adjustments For Child Support Orders.

The rule provides that the cost-of-living adjustment shall be based on the average change in the Consumer Price Index for the metropolitan statistical areas that encompass New Jersey and shall be compounded.  For current COLA data you can visit  the Bureau of Labor Statistics Website:,  The South Jersey Regional COLA increase for the last ten years is as follows:

Year % Increase
2002 2.0
2003 2.1
2004 4.1
2005 3.9
2006 3.9
2007 2.2
2008 3.4
2009 -0.4
2010 2.0
2011 2.7
2012 1.8

As a practical matter the COLA applies only to those child support orders that are paid through a New Jersey Probation Department.  Biannually the probation department will send a child support obligor (party paying child support) a COLA notice.  The notice will have the proposed increase of child support.

After receiving a COLA notice, the obligor has 30 days from the date of the notice to object to  the increase.  The objection must be made in writing to the probation department.  The obligor can successfully contest the increase by showing any of the following:

  1. they are not the obligor in the case is captioned in the notice
  2. the amount of child support of the order is incorrect
  3. the current child support order or judgment provides for alternate periodic cost-of-living adjustment
  4. the obligor’s income did not increase at a rate at least equal to the amount of the CPI

After considering the objection, the probation department will make a recommendation and notify the parties of the recommendation.  If either party is dissatisfied with  probation department’s determination they have a right to request a hearing before a hearing officer.  If either party is dissatisfied with the hearing officer’s decision,there is an absolute right of appeal to a family court judge.

When an appeal from a hearing office’s determination is made, the family court judge is obligated to consider the appeal de novo.  That means the court shall consider all evidence presented, regardless of whether the evidence was presented to the hearing officer.

A cost-of-living adjustment does not prohibit either parent  from seeking a modification of child support based on changed circumstances, or the three-year review of a Title IV-D child support order, without the need to show changed circumstances.

If you or a loved one has questions regarding child support, Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) or any other family law matter, please contact the child support attorneys at DeMichele and DeMichele. Our Team will thoroughly evaluate your case, explain the applicable legal principles, discuss the probable outcomes, and walk you through the process of preparing the necessary financial information and other proofs required to prevail before a New Jersey Family Judge.

Don’t hesitate: the legal assistance you need is literally one mouse click away. For a confidential consultation to discuss your situation, call (856) 546-1350 or click here to email us directly.

Post Author: Rick DeMichele

Richard A. DeMichele, Jr. is a seasoned litigator, devoting a substantial part of his practice to family law and personal injury matters.

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