New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christine signed S-1046/A-2721 into law on January 19, 2016. The signing of the law changes child support in New Jersey, but the law doesn’t go into effect until February 1, 2017.
The law imposes pertinent changes that parents receiving or paying child support must know.
Termination of Obligation to Pay Child Support
Obligation to pay child support terminates by law if a child:
- Enters the military
A court order or judgement can require child support to persist even if the three criteria above are met.
Without order of a court, child support payments and obligations are terminated when the child turns 19 years of age.
There are circumstances wherein termination is not automatic at the age of 19. These circumstances include:
- A court order specifies child support ends at another age.
- The custodial parent sends a written request for the continuation of payments beyond the age of 19 years.
- A child is receiving out-of-home placement by the Department of Child Protection and Permanency.
A written request by the custodial parent must include validity of support continuation. The request must also project the future date when child support will end. Support continuation will be allowed under the following circumstances (subject to change):
- The child is enrolled in high school or secondary school.
- The child is enrolled in a post-secondary school and can prove full-time attendance.
- The child is physically or mentally disabled.
There are also exceptional circumstances wherein the court may allow support to continue. If the court finds sufficient proof that support should continue beyond the age of 19, the court will provide both parents with a prospective date of termination.
Child Support Continuation Limit Changes to 23
The law establishes the maximum age that child support can continue until: 23 years old. Child and medical support continuation can last until 23 years of age in cases where the child in question:
- Remains in high school
- Attends college full-time
- Maintains a disability
- Attend a vocational or graduate school
When the law goes into effect on February 1, 2017, the parents of a child that is 22 3/4 months of age and still receiving child support will receive a Notice of Child Support Obligation Termination. This notice will come in the mail on or around February 1st.
The notice, if received on February 1, will note that the child’s support payments will end May 1, 2017 despite the child’s age at the time.
The new law is phasing in, which allows the payments to continue until May 1, 2017 instead of 19.
Children between the age of 22 1/2 and 22 3/4 months will receive their notification on or around February 1st. The termination date in these cases will be August 1, 2017.
If a child falls in the 18 1/2 – 22 1/2 age range, they will also be sent a termination letter with an effective date of August 1, 2017. These termination letters will contain information to request continuation of support.
Previous law did not allow for automatic termination of child support. Instead, the law allowed the child support recipient to argue that support should continue. If a recipient can prove that the child was not beyond the sphere of influence and responsibility exercised by a parent, support may continue.
The payee had to request for the emancipation of the child at 18.
The new law shifts the entire burden to the recipient to request child support continuation. Under normal circumstances, the payee has no reason to take any further action aside from making payments until the child reaches 19 years of age under the new law.
Probation Department payments are slightly different. The new law requires the Probation Department to send the receiving parent two notices of termination prior to payments ending. The first letter is sent 180 days before the child turns 19, and 90 days before the child’s 19th birthday.
All support arrangements prior to the law enactment will be upheld.
Back child support payments are still required to be paid off before termination, despite the child’s age. The new law doesn’t negate the fact that missed child support obligations must be repaid in accordance with court orders.
If a recipient receives child support for two children from the same payee, support will continue for a child that is not 19 years of age. Unless a termination date is specified, the younger child’s support payments will continue.
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.