Unbeknownst to many parents and divorcés in New Jersey, the state
implemented a new set of
child support laws on February 1st, 2017. The new legislation – which affects
all child support orders created and maintained within New Jersey –
makes numerous changes and steps that might already be affecting you and
Age Changes to NJ Child Support Law
To begin, New Jersey child support law now considers the child support
emancipation to be 19-years old, up from 18. The law also sets a limit
to the age of 23, except for special cases. Child support can extend beyond
19 when the child has not yet completed high school, is enrolled in college
or another higher education institution full-time (no time to become financially
independent), or has a recognized and diagnosed with a permanent disability.
New Jersey family law judges still have the ability to assign child support
beyond age 23 based on their discretion. Both spouses can also create
and sign a child support agreement with its own stipulations and obligation cut-off.
How will this new law be implemented? If you have a child age of 22-years-and-9-months
or older and are collecting child support, you should have already received
a legal notice from the state on February 1st. This Notice of Child Support Obligation Termination states that your
received child support payments is scheduled to end on May 1st, 2017 due to the legal changes. If your child is one-to-three months younger
than the previously mentioned age, you should have received a similar
notification with an ending date of August 1st, 2017.
If you have a child older than 18-years-and-6-months but younger than 22-years-and-6-months,
you should have gotten a notification with an August 1st, 2017 termination date for your child support. A notification of this
sort should also contain basic information about requesting modifications
or extensions to your child support order. However, if your divorce agreement
or child support order already names a date other than your child’s 19th birthday as the termination date of payments, it might not be altered
but also cannot be extended.
Lastly, if your child will turn 19 after August 1st, 2017, you should be scheduled to receive a notice of child support termination
no later than six months or 180 days before that child’s 19th birthday.
Failing to Send a Response
Each notification of child support termination requires acknowledgement
by the receiver, as well as a copy of it sent back to the relevant court.
When a court does not receive acknowledgement, a second identical notification
will be mailed to you again on or around 90-days or three months before
your child’s 19th birthday. Without any further input from a New Jersey family law judge
or you, the child support order will terminate on that child’s 19th birthday and confirmation of the termination will be mailed to both parents/spouses.
Owed Support & Opposition
When child support orders are terminated under the new law, it does not
eliminate any arrears or past owed child support. The noncustodial parent
that was paying the child support will need to pay off back child support
as usual or could be subjected to enforcement and penalties.
To challenge or otherwise oppose the extension of child support, despite
the new 19-year cut-off, the payor parent has to file a motion with the
local family law court. Other challenges or requests regarding younger
children on a child support order with a 19-year old child can be petitioned
in the same manner.
I Received a Notice of Termination – What Now?
If you have received a notice of proposed termination of child support
as a parent in New Jersey, you are probably wondering what you should
be doing next, especially if the new cut-off date is troubling. You will
have the right to file a motion for a continuation to the New Jersey Superior
Court in the county that sent the notice.
In addition to providing a proposed alternative end date, you must provide:
- Documentation that shows your child is still in high school beyond age 19.
- Evidence your child is considered a full-time student at a college, university,
or institution for at least one current five-month semester.
- Medical records that establish your child has been diagnosed with a mental
disability or physical impairment, and that such conditions existed before
your child turned 19 years old.
Custodial parents receiving child support also maintain the ability to
request an extension based on conditions unique to an individual case.
In other words, a parent can file a motion for any reason to the court
for an extension, but the final decision still remains up to the family
law judge’s discretion. A motion will not likely be successful unless
its reasoning is backed by evidence and represents a significant life
change or hardship, such as unexpected job loss or personal, chronic illness.
If and when a court does approve of an extension based on special circumstances,
it must still provide a proposed end-date; indefinite child support payment
plans are not permitted under the newly-revised New Jersey child support laws.
What Does the 23-Year Age Limit Mean?
New Jersey family law courts have been instructed through the new legislation
to consider 23 years of age as the top limit of child support obligations.
Only in absolutely necessary and unusual circumstances can a judge order
child support to go beyond the child’s 23rd birthday. The state’s probation department will also not take any
steps to help a parent or child collect or enforce a child support order
after the child’s 23rd birthday, even if a judge has ordered child support to be paid beyond
that date. After a child turns 23, however, he or she can use other legal
avenues to seek financial support from either parent.
If you would like more information about the updated New Jersey child support
laws and how they pertain to your child support order, Burnham Law Group,
LLC may be of service. Our South Jersey family law attorneys are led by
Philip S. Burnham, II, Esquire. He can be reached at