Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law on January 19, 2016 that goes into effect in 2017. The new bill establishes the age in which child support would end under New Jersey State Law: 19.
Christie has been a major proponent for matrimonial law in recent years, signing three major pieces of legislation in the state. The governor has signed the following into law in the past three years:
- Premarital Agreement Act (2013): A reform that strengthens premarital agreements in the state. Signed into law in March 2013, this piece of legislation deals directly with the strengthening of prenuptial agreements in the state.
- Alimony Reform Act: Signed into law on September 10, 2014, the act was seen as highly controversial and gives judicial discretion for alimony awards. The act aims for uniformity.
The third piece of legislation is the topic of this article. The new law is more of an administration of the law rather than a major change. New Jersey, under previous law, would send paperwork to parents when the child turned 18 years of age to inquire if they still required child support.
Under normal circumstances, if individuals did not respond to the paperwork, child support continued.
The new piece of legislation stops the continuance of child support. The payee or recipient needs to now provide proof that child support should continue beyond the age of 18. If the parents of the child do not provide the requested documentation, child support would automatically end when the child reaches 19 years of age.
Proof that support should continue, includes:
- Enrolling in college full-time
- Physical or mental disabilities
If the payee provides proof, child support will remain until the child is 23 years of age, and then will be automatically terminated. If a payee does not respond or provide proof, termination of child support will occur. The burden of proof remains solely on the payee under the new law.
Child Support While in College
College expenses are a primary concern for parents and children. The new law does not terminate child support if a child is enrolled in a full-time, post-secondary program. Under previous New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, support was calculated for:
- Children under the age of 18, or
- Children over the age of 18 that still attend high school and live at home
The calculation of support, therein, did not apply once a child commenced college.
The new law tackles the new legal age to end child support, but it doesn’t clarify support calculations for children attending college or post-secondary programs.
In many circumstances, litigation will occur to determine how much child support is required for a college-attending child. There are also situations that arise where the child is in dispute with two divorced parents over which party should provide support for college tuition.
Under New Jersey State law, parents that are considered “financially capable parents” are required to contribute to their child’s educational costs. Rising costs of tuition on both the public and private level complicates matters even more for families. Great financial strain can result when a parent is required to contribute to a child’s college or post-secondary education.
Moreover, New Jersey has done little to clarify the matter. Legislation may be required, in addition to the newly signed law, that would make it clearly defined as to what would occur when a child is in dispute with his or her parent over tuition contributions.
The new law that Governor Christie signed into legislation allows for a more streamlined process to handle child support in New Jersey. While the law aims to provide a clear-cut method of child support termination and continuance, the effects of the law have yet to be seen. It may be beneficial for parents paying child support, but it may be disastrous for the recipient that does not provide proof that child support must continue in a timely manner.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm specializing in family law and estates. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. Brad has a special expertise in working with child custody. You can read more on this topic by visiting our Child Custody & Support blog. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.