Facing a divorce in New Jersey (or anywhere else for that matter) is a difficult situation for both parties involved. Throw children into the mix, and the hardship becomes that much more difficult. Understanding New Jersey child support laws can be overwhelming and confusing. Here are a few FAQs regarding child support laws in New Jersey:
What is child support and what are New Jersey’s guidelines?
No matter the child, each and every one is entitled to support by its parents. Child support is the financial obligation by both parents, adoptive and natural, to support their child. In New Jersey, child support is determined by a set of guidelines which reviews custody obligations, each parent’s income, assets, and needs of the child.
How do New Jersey courts determine child support in a divorce?
Many forms are completed by both parties to determine child support. These forms include a completed Case Information Statement, itemized description of family bills, financial income statements, and completed New Jersey child support guideline worksheet. The judge will review and enter all relevant data into a program which then calculates the child support award.
Can New Jersey courts also award other expenses in addition to basic child support obligations?
Yes, New Jersey courts may award additional expenses beyond basic child support obligations. These usually include daycare, extracurricular activities, and health insurance expenses.
Can a child support award be modified?
Yes, under sufficient circumstances. However, New Jersey child support laws require that the person seeking modification prove a ‘change in circumstances.’
How long does child support last?
Child support will last until the child has been emancipated. Emancipation does not necessarily occur at 18, as many people believe, but will oftentimes be delineated by a set of circumstances set forth in the divorce settlement agreement. In comparison to other states, New Jersey has very strict child support laws when it comes to determining the support amount, the duration of support, and enforcing the agreement. Other circumstances where a child is considered emancipated is when they become married, they have a child of their own, or they enter the military.
What happens when the parent does not pay child support?
When the parent fails to pay child support in New Jersey, the parent is considered ‘in arrears,’ meaning their child support is past due. The receiving spouse (or Probation Officer) must file an enforcement application to address the arrears owed and the matter will then be handled by the court. The delinquent parent may have their wages garnished, driver’s license suspended, their professional license suspended, their passport suspended, and more. The arrears will be reported to their credit history and a lien may be placed on their real estate. If all of these methods of collecting past due child support fail, the nonpaying parent may be arrested and held until some of their arrears are collected. A payment plan can also be set in place.