On January 19, 2016, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law Senate Bill 1046 and Assembly Bill 2721. This law will impact how child support is handled in New Jeresy and becomes effective on February 1, 2017. The new law deals only with the process to terminate child support as the child(ren) reach the age of 19. There are no change to how child support is calculated under this new law and there are no changes to the law an emancipation.
At first blush, the new law may seem harsh in its potential implementation as it establishes 19 as the age when child support terminates. However, as will be explained below, the changes to the law are not as severe as they may seem.
What is the current law
Presently, child support payments continue unti the child has been deemed emancipated. The parent paying child support has the obligation to petition the court, present the relevant facts and ask tha the the child support obligation be terminated. Given the passage of time and the unfortuante reality that the parent-child relationship may have deteriorated over the years, it is often difficult for the payor to gather the necessary information to substantiate the motion. They risk filing their motion to terminate child support too early or too late. There is a disincentive for the parent receiving support to cooperate.
How does the law change this?
After February 1, 2017, the presumption is that child support will end at age 19. Notices will be issued and it will be the responsibility of the parent receiving child support to request that the support be continued. Child support (including the providing of medical insurance) may continue to age 23 if the child: (1) is still in high school, (2) attending full-time college, vocational, or graduate school, (3) is disabled, (4) if the parties have reached their own agreement, or (5) if the court deems the continued child support necessary. These factors exist in the current law.
Free to enter any agreements on child support you wish
It is important to remember that when drafting their settlement agreements, parties are free to create obligations that extend beyond the age of 19. These case specific agreements would trump the new law and would govern.
Still have questions about child support in New Jersey?
The changes that will be implemented on February 1, 2017 change the process more than the substance of child support in New Jersey. If you have questions about child support in New Jersey, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney. Additionally, the State’s website www.njchildsupport.org has a wealth of information about the implementation of the new child support law and general information on the issue.