Termination of Child Support

Termination of New Jersey Child Support

According to New Jersey divorce lawyers, state law requires both parents to be responsible for their children as if a divorce had never occurred. In the most prevalent scenario, the court makes one person the custodial parent and the other the non-custodial parent. The children live with the custodial parent, and the non-custodial parent pays child support to the other parent based on their income and financial situation.

Child Support in New Jersey

New Jersey has developed a set of Child Support Guidelines that the courts use to determine fair child support obligations. Factors include:

  • The number of children and their ages
  • Children from previous relationships
  • Each parent’s finances and earning capability
  • Standard of living
  • Childcare costs
  • Healthcare costs

Whatever the amount, that money is to cover the needs of the children. “Needs” in this context is often far more encompassing than many people expect. The obvious ones are:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Housing
  • Medical expenses

The term also extends to any transportation and travel that the children may require. Child support covers their entertainment and extracurricular activities. Other notable expenses covered can in some cases be deemed to include:

  • Private education
  • College expenses
  • Special celebrations, such as a bat mitzvah
  • Health insurance
  • Costs associated with disabilities

Agreement Between the Parents

Judges do not determine child support amounts and lengths in all cases. In fact, they would prefer that the parents come to agreement outside of court, and this can happen through:

  • Uncontested divorce agreements
  • Divorce mediation
  • Divorce arbitration

Such agreements must conform to New Jersey law, or else the judge will not sign off. In cases where the agreement is legally sound, the judge finalizes the order without interference the vast majority of the time.

Child Support Program

New Jersey has implemented the Child Support Program as a resource for parents who pay child support and those that receive it. This is the program that will inform you of any upcoming alterations to your child support. It is very important that you update them right away with any changes to your:

  • Legal name
  • Phone numbers
  • Mailing address
  • Email address

If they update you using the mailing address they have on record, they have met their obligation. You would likely have no recourse should you, for instance, miss the deadline for modifying rather than terminating your child support.

Termination of Child Support Law

Ending child support in New Jersey is governed under the termination of child support law that went into effect on Feb. 1, 2017. The reason for the new law was to allow child support to end naturally if neither parent opposed. Prior to this law, a child support obligation would continue indefinitely until one parent filed a motion or application to have the court declare the child emancipated.

This statute established 19 as the age when child support and medical support obligation end organically. It also allows for child support to continue up to age 23 if certain criteria are met. New Jersey later updated the statute to allow for child support beyond 23 if an even stricter set of criteria is met. This provision went into effect Dec. 1, 2020. Note that this law allows for being superseded by agreements made by the parents and finalized by the courts.

Terminating Child Support

Child support ends naturally when the child turns 19 or:

  • Marries
  • Enters military service
  • Passes away

If any of these conditions are met, there is nothing the parent paying the support has to do. The parent receiving the child support can request continuation. The continuation must be approved by the court but is generally a formality if the child is a full-time student or has a disability. Applicable full-time education includes:

  • High school
  • College
  • Graduate school
  • Vocational school

Emancipating a Child

The parent obligated to pay child support can seek termination as early as age 18. To do this, the parent must file a motion or application to the court to declare the child emancipated. The court uses the concept of parental sphere of influence to determine if the child should be emancipated. This sphere varies from case to case. Generally, a child who is outside the sphere of influence of their parents is at least 18 years of age and no longer in high school with no plans to go to college. The court will also often factor in whether the child lives at home and/or has stable employment.

Notice of Proposed Child Support Obligation Termination

Six months prior to a child turning 19, the CSP will mail each parent a notice that details the proposed termination of the child support obligation. This happens even if the parents have an agreement that supersedes the law. The CSP will send out a second notice 90 days later. If the court has not granted a continuation, the parents will receive an updated court order with the date the support obligation will end. If the court has granted a continuation, the court order will reflect that change instead.

Child Support at Age 23 and Older

If the court has continued child support beyond age 19, the process discussed above will happen again as the child nears age 23. Support beyond age 23 is only allowed in specific scenarios. The court generally reserves this option for children who have severe mental or physical incapacities and will be dependent on their parents throughout their lives. It can be included in a parental agreement, but the court will generally only allow if the scenarios discussed above are already known.

Application or Motion to Adjust Child Support

If there are multiple children involved, the court will not adjust the support amount automatically simply because a 19-year-old child is no longer included. The parent who pays the support will typically need to file a motion or application to have the court adjust the amount. The court can adjust it based on a previous agreement between the parents. If there is no agreement, then they will simply reassess the situation as they would when initially determining the child support amount.

Back Child Support

In New Jersey, child support termination has no effect on any past due amounts. From the perspective of the court, the other parent incurred that debt and is owed repayment. The parent who owes back child support is still subject to enforcement by the Probation Child Support Enforcement organization. The revised order discussed above will reflect this. Once the back child support has been repaid in full, both parents will then receive the final order.

Legal Assistance for Child Support

The Law Office of Kelly Berton Rocco has extensive experience navigating New Jersey family law. Our team can assist you with all parenting issues, including applying for child support and modifying or terminating it. To have your case reviewed by one of our divorce lawyers, call our Hackensack office at 201-343-0078, or contact us online.

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