Understanding child support laws can be difficult when it comes to asking the Court to terminate support for older children or modifying the current amount of support that you pay or receive. However, the State of New Jersey recently enacted a new law with the hopes of simplifying the process. Effective February 1, 2017, child support payments now automatically terminate when a child reaches the age of 19 unless that child is enrolled full-time in post-secondary school or another extenuating circumstance exists. If a child is enrolled full-time, child support will continue until that child completes their education or reaches the age of 23, whichever first occurs. In rare instances, typically individuals with disabilities, support will continue beyond 23, but it will no longer be deemed child support which will be handed through the State’s Probation division. So what does all of this mean?
- If you are currently paying support (obligor) directly to another party, this law will not automatically terminate your support obligation. If you have a child who is 19 and not enrolled in school, you will be required to petition the Court to terminate support if the circumstances are appropriate. If you have a child who has been receiving support and has reached the age of 23, you will also be required to petition the Court to terminate support.
- If you currently pay support (obligor) through the State’s Probation division, you should have or will receive a Notice of Termination of Support. In the event the child is 19 and not enrolled in school, there is nothing you need to do. The child will be emancipated. However, in circumstances where there is more than one child, non-custodial parents should understand that they will likely need to petition the Court to reduce support as the Court will not recalculate support when one child is removed from the child support obligation. If the child is enrolled in school, the Court should be notified of the prospective graduation date so that the Notice of Termination Support can be resent at that time. All child support paid through Probation will automatically terminate when the child reaches 23.
- If you are receiving support (obligee) and a child is enrolled in college, you need to complete the Notice of Termination of Support form and provide adequate information to demonstrate the child is enrolled. This information includes tuition and registration statements. In a situation where the obligee is receiving support for a child who is disabled and has reached the age of 23, you will need to petition the Court to request that support continue in the form of financial maintenance.
Although the recent change in law was an effort to simplify the process, it still remains complicated for many parents given each person’s unique circumstances. If you are in a situation where you are unsure of how to proceed it is wise to contact a knowledgeable family law attorney to assist you in understanding this new process.