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Conflicts between ex-spouses concerning child support obligations can be difficult to manage, and can be a time fraught with emotional distress. It is always advisable to consult with an attorney when dealing with legal matters surrounding child support obligations. This will ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities and can help you navigate the legal process surrounding your divorce.

  • Requirement of Support By Both Parents: In the state of New Jersey, both parents are expected to contribute to their child’s financial needs. The child support is determined based on each parent’s income, the number of children involved, and the custody arrangement in place. Child support usually ends when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later, but not beyond age 19 unless the court finds it appropriate. This could be due to the child’s physical or mental condition or because the child is still in high school. In New Jersey, a parent or child can also request the continuation of support if the child is enrolled in a full-time post-secondary education program.
  • Income Shares Model: New Jersey uses the Income Shares Model to calculate child support. This model takes into account both parents’ income and estimates the amount of money that would have been available to the child if the family had stayed together.
  • Child Support Calculation: The State of New Jersey provides an online child support calculator that can give an estimate of what you can expect to pay or receive in child support. It’s important to note that this is just an estimate, and the final amount can only be determined by the court.
  • Higher-Income Families: When families have a collective income that is greater than $187,200, New Jersey courts will calculate your child support accordingly, taking into account that you are, by law, a higher-income family. In general, since a higher level of spending is associated with higher-income families, this adjustment is logical. If you are in a higher-income family, New Jersey courts will decide the terms of your child support first based on the state’s Guidelines, and then will increase it based on your remaining family income, as well as your child’s individual needs.
  • Obtain a Court Order: You must first have a court order for child support. This is typically done during the process of separation or divorce, but can also be established later if circumstances change. If you do not have a child support order yet, you should consult with a family law attorney to guide you through this process.

Modifications to Child Support

Either parent can request a modification to the child support order if there’s been a significant change in circumstances, for example, a shift in income, a change in custody, or significant changes in the child’s needs. Some examples of circumstances that may support a child support modification are as follows:

  • One parent has lost their home;
  • One parent has contracted a serious illness or sustained a serious injury;
  • Their child has sustained a serious injury or contracted a medical condition;
  • One parent recently took a significant pay cut or lost their job;
  • There has been a change in federal income tax laws;
  • One parent is now living with another person/has remarried;
  • One parent has received a job promotion or has come into a large sum of money, via an inheritance or otherwise.

Apply for a Child Support Modification: If you believe you qualify for a modification, you can apply through the New Jersey Child Support Program. You can find more information and the application on their website.

Provide Evidence: You will need to provide evidence of the change in circumstances. This could include pay stubs, medical bills, or other relevant documentation. You may also need to provide evidence of your current income and expenses.

Attend a Hearing: If the court agrees that a modification might be appropriate, they will schedule a hearing. Both parents will have the opportunity to present their case and provide evidence.

Receive the Court’s Decision: After considering all the evidence, the court will make a decision about whether to modify the child support order.

It is  important to continue to pay the current amount of child support until a new order is issued, or you could be subject to legal penalties. 

Enforcement of Child Support Obligations

If a parent does not pay their child support as ordered, the other parent does have mechanisms to compel the other parent to meet their obligations.  Some of the recommended measures are as follows:

  • File a Motion for Enforcement: If the other parent isn’t paying child support as ordered, you can file a Motion for Enforcement with the Court that issued the child support order. This asks the Court to enforce its previous order. It is important to keep documentation of missed payments.
  • Contact the Probation Division: The Probation Division of the New Jersey Judiciary is responsible for monitoring and enforcing child support orders. They can assist you to collect child support by way of a wage garnishment, intercepting tax refunds, credit bureau reporting, and suspending the non-paying parent’s driver’s license, to name a few. 
  • Utilize the New Jersey Child Support Program: The New Jersey Child Support Program, operated by the Department of Human Services, can assist with child support enforcement. They can help locate the other parent, establish paternity, obtain a child support order if there is none in place to date, and enforce and modify the existing order.
  • Consider Other Legal Actions: If the other parent continues to fail to pay child support, there may be other legal consequences, such as contempt of court, which can result in fines or jail time.

Legal procedures can be complex, especially involving family situations.  Having a knowledgeable New Jersey attorney on your side can be extremely helpful. Contact Bozanian McGregor LLC to help guide you through the process, whether you’re dealing with trying to first obtain child support, modifications to the Order, or enforcement of your child support agreement.