In New Jersey, a new child support termination statute goes into effect on February 1, 2017. The new law dramatically impacts when and how child support orders issued in the state come to an end. Are you a parent who pays child support, or are you the parent who receives it? Here’s what to expect.
The big news you need to know: New Jersey’s new child support law establishes that child support automatically terminates on the child’s 19th birthday, unless certain conditions are present. Upon termination, a non-custodial parent is no longer obligated to pay support or provide health insurance for the child.
Other circumstance that trigger child support termination are marriage or entrance into military service of the child, which may take place before age 19, or a child’s death.
Factors That Support Continuation of Child Support
The new law calls for automatic termination of child support after the child turns 19 years old, unless at least one of the following factors is present:
– The child has a physical and/or mental or intellectual disability as determined by federal or state government agency. Please note that the disability used to justify the continuation of support must be a condition that existed before child turned nineteen.
– The child is still in high school, or attends a vocational or technical school, college or graduate program, or another secondary and post-secondary education program.
– Your current support order establishes a different date/age of child for termination of payments.
Maximum Age for Child Support in New Jersey
If child support continues based on the factors above, the law allows for continuation of support up to a maximum age of 23 years old. After age 23, no support can be ordered in New Jersey. Parents and children may enter into other financial arrangements with each other, but this is not considered child support, nor is it subject to child support laws.
Automatic Child Support Termination Process
No longer do the payors of support have to go to court and ask that their child be emancipated and that child support payments end. Under the new law, the custodial/recipient parent receives a notice before the child’s 19th birthday that support is set to be terminated. The notice is accompanied by a form the parent can fill out if there are circumstances that necessitate the support to continue — as listed above: health and school, etc.
The custodial parents must send proof of circumstances, which can include:
– Current school transcripts for proof that child is attending school or college;
– Documentation from an appropriate state or federal agency that a child is physically or mentally/intellectually disabled. This could include statements from the Social Security Administration that the child receives benefits, or other accepted federal or state documentation of disability.
– A copy of your child support order that specifics a different age for child support age cut-off.
What Happens Next
If the custodial parent takes no action after receiving the notification of termination, the order ends automatically when the child turns nineteen and the paying parent is no longer obligated to pay.
If documents are submitted, the request is reviewed by the courts. Both parents will be notified if the support is to be continued or not. The timeline for this procedure should have the decision made by the child’s 19th birthday. In the event the courts allow the support to continue, the parent required to pay has the option of filing a termination motion.
What This Looks Like: Two Parents’ Stories
To make it easier for you to understand the new law and the automatic termination process, we have put together the following case studies of how parents are coping with these changes:
Paying Parent Case Study: John has paid child support for five years. His daughter is now 19 years old and not attending college. Read: What does the new law mean for him?
Receiving Parent Case Study: Sarah has received support for years. Her son Jacob is 19 and in college. What forms does she need to fill out and how can she make sure her child support continues?
If your child is over the age of nineteen, we can help you navigate this new law and understand your rights and obligations. Please contact us to schedule your consultation to discuss your case with one of our qualified and experienced family law attorneys.