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Articles Posted in Child Support

Whether you divorce by settlement agreement or a judge orders divorce terms after a trial, the resulting judgment is a legally binding court order. Your settlement agreement is incorporated into your judgment. If your ex doesn’t abide by its terms, either for custody or child support, you have a few options.

Problems With Child Support

If your ex isn’t paying child support, your easiest remedy is to sign up for your state’s child support services. State services collect from your ex, often through an income withholding order, so it’s more difficult for to fall behind with his payments in the first place. His employer must deduct his support from each of his paychecks and forward it to the state. The state then transmits the payments to you and keeps track. If your ex falls behind for such reasons as being out of work, the state may intercept his tax refund, report to the credit bureaus, or place liens against his property.

But state services can be slow because they often labor under a huge caseload. If you want your money sooner rather than later, you can take your ex back to court yourself. Your ex will have to appear before a judge and explain why he hasn’t paid. The judge may work with him if he’s suffered some financial hardship that genuinely prevents him from paying child support. This doesn’t mean the judge will vacate or erase the support terms of your divorce judgment so you won’t get paid. It means he’ll put a plan in place by which your ex can eventually catch up with his arrears (the unpaid balance he owes you) and get back on track. Continue Reading →

Under New Jersey law, emancipation of a child occurs when the dependent relationship between the parent and the child ends. The term emancipation is used largely in the context of child support, as the emancipation of a child signals the end of the requirement of a parent to pay child support. In the 2015 case of Llewelyn v. Shewchuk, the court answered the question of whether a child is emancipated when she chooses to live independently from either legal parent.

The facts of the Llewelyn case are interesting, as we typically see the parents as the parties bringing this type of litigation, but here we have the child as the “appellant” in this particular case and the child’s father as the defendant. In 1994 James Shewchuk (the defendant) adopted two-year-old Adrianna (the appellant) when he married her mother (who is the plaintiff in this case). Continue Reading →

A major consideration in determinations of child support obligations is the time with each parent in a true joint custody arrangement. When one considers this situation, there are obligations to both parents for the children that would not be shared expenses but for the equal time arrangement, so the court makes an effort to compensate for those expenses by varying from the standard child support guidelines.

New Jersey child support includes various types of expenses for the child, including fixed expenses such as housing, utilities and other expenses incurred whether or not the children is present; variable expenses such as the costs while the child is each parents’ care such as food and transportation; and controlled expenses such as clothing, personal hygiene items, entertainment and various other expenses while the child is in a parent’s care. Controlled expenses are those that can be challenged as the expenses required in the household of each parent. If a parent is ordered to pay full guidelines child support in a situation where the child is with them fifty percent of the time, they would be paying these controlled expenses twice, once in their own home, and again when the child was with the other parent. Obviously, one parent paying for the same expenses twice is unfair and unreasonable.

The child support guidelines set controlled expenses to be 25% of the entire child support obligations. There is a case, Wunsch-Deffler v. Deffler, that found, in a 50/50 sharing of the parents’ time with the child or children, this 25% controlled expense amount should not be included in the payor’s child support obligation. Wunsch-Deffler v. Deffler, 406 N.J. Super. 505 (Ch.Div. 2009). Therefore, pursuant to this court, the guidelines child support amount for the payor should be reduced by 25%. Continue Reading →

What Government Agency enforces a NJ child support order?

The New Jersey Probation Division is tasked with enforcing New Jersey child support orders.

What happens if NJ child support is paid through the New Jersey Probation Department and the obligor fails to pay?

If the obligor fails to make scheduled child support payments, an enforcement hearing may be scheduled to deal with the issue. At the hearing the parents will typically present evidence of their financial situation. The obligor is required to attend the hearing, and if he or she fails to do so, a bench warrant may be issues for his or her arrest. If an arrest warrant is issued, the obligor’s driver’s license may be suspended as well.

Who conducts an enforcement hearing and what is the process?

At the hearing the case will be heard either by a Hearing Officer or a judge. Hearing Officers can make recommendations, but if either party objects to the recommendation a judge will hear the case instead. If neither party objects to the Hearing Officer’s recommendation, a judge will simply review the recommendation and if satisfied, will sign off on it, making the recommendation an enforceable order. Continue Reading →

Definition of Emancipation of a Child

Emancipation is the legal act of a minor becoming free from the custody and control of a parent or guardian. Likewise, the parent or guardian is free from responsibility toward the child.

Emancipation does not automatically occur when a child has reached 18 years of age, as many people believe. In fact, in New Jersey it typically occurs much later for reasons we will discuss below.

Child Support – When Is it Terminated?

In most instances we use the term ‘emancipated’ when discussing the termination of child support payments. At the outset it’s important to understand that in New Jersey child support payments do not automatically end when a child reaches 18.

How is a Child Emancipated?

Since there is no set age at which a child is automatically emancipated in New Jersey, emancipation can occur in two different ways. The parents divorce settlement agreement can specify when emancipation will occur. If not provided for in the settlement agreement, a court will declare a child emancipated if it determines that the child is outside the ‘sphere of influence’ of the parents. Determining whether a child is outside the ‘sphere of influence’ is fact sensitive, but generally means that the child lives independently, without depending on the parents for support. Continue Reading →

NJ Child support obligations are extremely serious, not just because it goes to give the child food, clothing and shelter, but because the consequences for failing to pay support can have serious impact on the payor’s life.

MECHANISMS TO ENFORCE PAYMENT AND PENALTIES FOR NON-PAYMENT

  • The court can give you a judgment on arrears calculated by the court. Filing this judgment places a lien on any real property of the payor and shows up on credit reports. If the real property is sold, your lien must be paid in full.
  • Garnish payor’s paycheck, meaning that the child support is automatically taken out of the paycheck for you.
  • If the payor does not appear at a court hearing for enforcement of NJ child support, a bench warrant can be issued and the payor can be put in jail. This incarceration can be done on work release, or without work release. This could also result in the payor’s driver’s license being suspended. Incarceration does not eliminate the child support that is due or becomes due.
  • When an arrearage in child support is over $2,500, the payor can be denied issuance or renewal of a passport.
  • The court can execute against the payor’s assets based on a judgment for arrears. This includes include bank accounts and other assets.
  • If more than $100 is owed in arrears, this can be reported to credit bureaus and will impact the payor’s credit worthiness.
  • Tax refunds and homestead rebates can be taken to apply toward arrears in excess of $500, though in public assistance cases the amount is $150.
  • If the payor has failed to pay child support for six months or more, they can have their driver’s license, professional license and recreational licenses suspended.
  • Lottery winnings of $600 or more can be seized if the payor owes $1,000 or more in child support arrears.
  • Levies can be placed against workers’ compensation and insurance claims of the payor.
  • Project Save Our Children: A federal program that assesses misdemeanor or felony charges for non-payment of child support under the following circumstances:
  • Refusing to pay child support for a year or more
  • Traveling to another state to avoid payment of child support obligations
  • Owing $5,000 or more in child support

Continue Reading →

New Jersey Child Support Guidelines are extremely complicated, put together in about a hundred pages of principles, standards and considerations. The schedule of child support obligations, which is one of many appendices to the statute, is merely a starting point in determining parents’ child support obligation. The premise underlying the lengthy list of considerations for calculation of child support is that both parents have an obligation to support their child.

As one would expect, child support starts with a calculation of both parents combined net income. This includes regular income, pensions, retirements, interest, disability, basically, income from absolutely all sources. When you deal with a regular paycheck every week, and nothing more, the determination of combined net income is simple. But where there are numerous sources of income or self-employment, there are certain expenses used as deductions to that income to determine the net income. Gross, of course, is all income received prior to reducing it by taxes and certain allowable expenses. Net income is the amount after those deductions.

WHAT BASIC NJ CHILD SUPPORT IS SUPPOSED TO PAY

The purpose of child support is to pay certain of the child’s expenses, not the expenses of either parent. The basics include:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Entertainment
  • Unreimbursed healthcare expenses up to $250 annually per child
  • Transportation costs
  • Various other items

Continue Reading →

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