Governor Christie recently signed into law an act of legislation addressing one of the issues of child support:
On January 19, 2016, Governor Christie signed S-1046/A-2721 into law. This law establishes 19 as the age when a child support and/or medical support obligation will end. The new law allows for child and/or medical support to continue up to age 23 for cases in which the dependent is still in high school; attending full-time college, vocational or graduate school; is disabled; if the parties reached a separate agreement; or, if continued support was granted by the court.
As the new law cited above illustrates, after divorce or separation, parents have an equal obligation to provide ‘emotional’ and ‘financial’ support to their children, yet no law can reasonably force parents to provide “emotional support.” However, it can compel parents to provide the financial support that they are obligated to provide and that their children have a right to receive.
Child support belongs to children. Neither parent can waive the other’s obligation to pay it. Moreover, the State of New Jersey takes child support very seriously. Two key New Jersey agencies helping parents deal with child support issues are the Administrative Office of the Courts, Probation Services, and the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Family Development (DFD).
In addition to encouraging parents to provide emotional support to their children, the DFD provides information to parents about how it assists in the enforcement of court-ordered child support at www.njchildsupport.org. The DFD has a wide array of enforcement tools available, for example:
- Income withholding
- Credit reporting
- Lottery prize intercept
- Tax fund offset
- Seizure of assets
- License suspension
- Passport denial
There are also additional enforcement mechanisms available. For more information, please visit the website.
Utilizing Probation Services to monitor a child support order, in my view, is the best way for parents to ensure regular child support payments. The amount of child support that each parent must contribute is determined through the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, which can be found at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us, under the heading "Legal Reference Materials." Once a child support order is established by the court, Probation Services monitors it and collects the money owed via a computer-automated collection system. If a parent, referred to as the "obligor," should fall into arrears for a given period of time, the automated system then triggers the enforcement tools that are required by law, including, if necessary, the arrest and detention of the delinquent obligor.
If a parent, who is the parent of primary residence of the child(ren), does not elect to have child support made payable through Probation Services at the time the child-support order is established by the court, the child-support order will not be automatically enforced if the obligor does not make his or her child-support payments. The lack of enforcement of the order will, of course, delay the recipient parent, known as the "oblige," from obtaining the child support due to the children because the obligee would first have to initiate an enforcement action in order to coerce the recalcitrant obligor to pay-up. Another important aspect of Probation Services monitoring a child support order is that the amount of child support will automatically be adjusted on a periodic basis to reflect increases in the cost of living, referred to as a "COLA" adjustment.
I encourage you to visit the Web sites mentioned in this article so that you can arm yourself with information that can help you to ensure that your children are provided with the financial support that they have a right to enjoy.
For assistance or representation in family-law related matters or speak with a NJ Divorce Attorney for a free consultation, please visit us at www.simonattorneys.com or call 800-709-1131.