The New Jersey Child Support Bill signed into law on January 19, 2016, by Governor Christie went into effect on February 1, 2017. The main effect of this new law is that it changes the age at which a child is assumed by the court to be emancipated from 18 years of age to 19.
As a result of this new law, in New Jersey child support will automatically cease when the child turns 19 with these exceptions:
- the child dies, marries, or joins the military; or
- a court order is issued specifying a different age at which support will end.
Differences Between This Law and the Previous One
There are three very important differences between this new law and the one that preceded it:
- The new law raises the age of presumptive emancipation from 18 to 19.
Under the old law, a child was presumed to be an adult no longer entitled to child support at age 18. Under the new law, the age at which a child is presumed to be emancipated is 19.
- The new law puts the burden of proof on the recipient of child support.
Under the previous law it was the responsibility of the party who was paying child support to convince the court that child support payments should stop.
The new law shifts the burden of proof to the recipient, who now must prove to the court why child support should continue past age 19. What’s more, unless the recipient petitions the court before the child reaches age 19, support will automatically end. The court will not consider petitions it receives after the child’s 19th birthday.
- Child support must end at age 23.
Previously, the law regarding when child support must end was open ended. The new law provides that in all instances child support must stop at age 23. If assistance is needed after that, other sources must be obtained.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What are valid reasons to request continued child support beyond age 19?
The following are accepted reasons to petition the court for a continuation of child support:
• the child is enrolled in a high school or other secondary education program, such as a vocational school;
• the child is enrolled full time in a post-secondary program;
• the child has a mental or physical disability that requires support and the condition must have existed before his or her 19th birthday;
• the payor and the recipient previously reached a separate agreement; or
• continued support has been granted by the court.
- I receive my payments from the Probation Division. Will I be notified prior to termination of child support?
Yes, if payments are made from the Probation Division, both the payor and the recipient will be notified of the pending termination 180 days before the child’s 19th birthday. (The number of days varies for children turning 19 to 22 before July 31, 2017.)
If no request for a continuation of support has been made, another notice will be sent to both individuals 90 days prior to the child’s 19th birthday. Upon the child’s 19th birthday, if no petition has been made, support will automatically be terminated.
If you do receive a continuation, then you will again be notified of the final termination 90 days before the extended date. Again, this is provided you are getting your payments through the Probation Division.
- I receive my payments directly from my ex-spouse. Will I still be notified prior to termination?
No, if you receive your payments directly from the payor, neither of you will be notified. It will be your responsibility to request a continuation of support if you think it is warranted.
Remember, it is the recipient’s responsibility to know that the requirement for child support has ended. Keep in mind that as the recipient, you may change the option to receive payments directly and instead choose to have payments sent from the Probation Division. This would ensure that you are notified before the deadline for petitioning the court arrives.
- How do I petition the court for a continuation of support?
If you receive your payments from the Probation Division, instructions for filing a petition will be included in the notification of the pending termination. You will also be provided with information regarding the change in the amount you will receive.
It is important that the Child Support Program has your current mailing address, phone numbers, and email address so that you are aware of any changes and notifications.
If you are not getting your payments through the Probation Division or need more information for any reason, visit www.njchildsupport.org.
- My judgment of divorce provides for child support to continue until my child is 23. Do I still have to petition the court?
No, your judgment of divorce or child-support order will prevail. However, you may be asked to show proof of the court order.
Keep in mind, however, that even if your agreement extends payments beyond then, enforced child support will end when the child turns 23.
- Our judgment of divorce states that both parents will share in the cost of our children’s college education. Does the new law have any impact on that portion of our agreement?
No, providing a college education is separate from child support.
- I am in the process of negotiating a divorce agreement. Can I request that the provision for a continuation of support past age 19 be included as part of the settlement?
Yes, if both parties agree, then that can be part of the original agreement. The benefit to the recipient is that it will not be necessary to request a continuation when the child turns 19.
Laws Change: Contact a Qualified NJ Attorney
Laws change. If you are uncertain about how the new Child Support Bill and other legislation impacts you and your children, you should seek the advice of an experienced New Jersey custody and child support attorney to help you understand your unique situation.
Do you have questions about child support or other family law issues? Contact the child support lawyers at Aretsky Law Group, P.C., today for a free initial consultation.
Call us 24/7 at 800-537-4154.