Will an inheritance change my child support payments?

Q. I am divorced and paying child support. If my ex inherits something like $200,000, what does that do to my child support payments?

– Hopeful

A. It depends.

The question of whether an inheritance affects maintenance or not is extremely factual.

It’s important to know how much alimony is being paid and what the basis for the alimony was, including the income and financial circumstances of both the person paying the alimony and the person receiving it, said Jeralyn Lawrence, a Family Law Attorney with Lawrence Law in Watchung.

She said a $200,000 inheritance may or may not affect child support payments.

“Although a court probably would not require the alimony recipient to use the $200,000 inheritance to support himself, a court would attribute a return to that $200,000,” she said. “For example, a court might say that if the $200,000 was deposited into a brokerage account, it could earn 4% interest, or $8,000 a year. The question then would be whether that $8,000 a year is significant enough to affect child support payments.”

Lawrence said you should review your settlement agreement to determine if the inheritance represents a change of circumstances.

If that’s the case, you would apply to the court to have your child support reduced, she said.

“However, I would strongly recommend that you try mediation before filing an application with the court,” she said. “Mediation is an extremely successful process in which a mediator, a neutral third party, helps facilitate negotiations between the parties to try to reach an amicable and cost-effective solution.”

Email your questions to Ask@NJMoneyHelp.com.

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Sign up for NJMoneyHelp.com’s weekly e-newsletter.

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