When Governor Christie enacted the Termination of Child Support Law in January 2016, he most likely simplified the paperwork requirements for countless divorced parents paying child support with children reaching the age of emancipation. Each Denville child support lawyer at our firm applauds the fact that parents no longer need to return to court when their child support obligations legally end. However, the process is still complex when circumstances require the obligations to continue beyond a fixed date.
How the Termination of Child Support Process Has Changed
In general, children who reach the age of majority no longer require child support under the law. Before the new rules go into effect on February 1, 2017, however, parents whose children reach age 18 and meet other emancipation requirements have to return to the courts to end the payments. This rule particularly affected parents who made the payments through payroll withholding. Employers had to continue withholding the payments until they received a court order to discontinue withholding. Theoretically, without this court order, those payments could continue forever.
The new rules increase the emancipation age to 19 and set the following conditions for extending qualifications for child support up to age 23:
- The child is still in high school or attending full-time college, vocational or graduate school
- The child is disabled
- Continued support was negotiated through a separate agreement or granted by the court
The new rules make termination automatic based on those conditions. As of the roll-out, parents with children age 19 or older will receive an initial Notice of Child Support Termination this summer. Parents with younger children can expect this notice about 180 days before the child’s 19th birthday. When an existing Judgment of Divorce or Support Order specifies a different termination date, that date will stand (with possible additional paperwork requirements).
Extending the Child Support Term Still Requires Judicial Decisions
The most important decisions made in divorce involve the children. Most parents take the issues of custody and support very seriously, attempting to accurately predict their children’s needs over a period of up to 19 years. Of course, many things can change as young lives progress over that time.
Whether they suffer an injury or illness that changes their needs — or even if they decide to continue their education when they were not expected to do so — they may need financial support from their parents for longer than was originally anticipated. Regardless of the level of cooperation between divorced parents, informal agreements are not acceptable under the law. Parents need to return to the courts to create new, legally-recognized child support agreements.
The attorneys at Riordan & Associates, LLC are dedicated to helping parents negotiate agreements that can provide their children with financial assistance for as long as they reasonably need it. Call us or use our convenient online contact form to obtain the full support required to reach a fair agreement and move it through the NJ court system.