New Jersey Legislative Changes in Child Support

Effective February 1, 2017, the child support laws, as we know it, will be changed. The most notable change is that child support terminates, by operation of law without an order of the court, if a child, less than 19 years old: a) marries; b) dies; or c) enters the military service. At age 19 years of age, child support terminates by operation of law without a court order unless: a) another termination date is set forth in a court order; b) the parents of the child agree and the court approves the continuation of support until a predetermined date; or c) the child support is extended by the court based upon an application by a parent who filed prior to the child’s 19th birthday. If your divorce judgment or support order indicates an end date other than the child’s 19th birthday (e.g., 18 years old), that date will remain; you cannot request an administrative continuation of support. The new law does not apply to foreign judgments/order registered in New Jersey for modification or enforcement under UIFSA.

A parent or child may also apply for the continuation of child support beyond 19 years of age if the child:

a) is still in high school or secondary school; b) is a full-time student at a post-secondary educational school; c) is disabled due to a mental or physical disability that existed prior to the child reaching 19 years of age and requires continued support; or d) other exceptional circumstances approved by the court. Any order of continued child support should provide for a future termination date or a date that the court will review the matter.

The new law also provides that if there is a termination of child support for unallocated child support paid for more than one child, the higher child support amount will continue until such time an application is filed to modify the child support for the remaining child or children. As for allocated child support (i.e., there is a designated amount of child support for each child), then an application can also be filed for an order providing for the reduced amount of the allocated support.

Payments of child support through the Probation Division of the Superior Court require several types of notices. During the phase in of the law, if your child is between ages 19 and 22 prior to July 31, 2017, you will receive the "First Notice of Child Support Termination" mailed on February 1, 2017, with child support ending August 1, 2017 (not on the child’s 19th birthday). You will be provided with information as to how to request a continuation of child support and how the amount of child support may change. If the child turns age 19 after August 1, 2017, that "First Notice of Child Support Termination" will be received 180 days before your child’s 19th birthday. If you do not request a continuation of child support, you will receive a second "Notice of Child Support Termination, "sent out 90 days before the child’s 19th birthday." If no continuation of child support is requested after the second notice, the support order ends as of the child’s 19th birthday, and the parents will receive notice of this change. If your agreement has provided for continued child support (e.g., because the child is in full-time college), then you will receive a Final Notice of Child Support Termination sent 90 days prior to the child’s 23rd birthday (unless the termination date is extended) advising that child support will terminate. Make sure that probation has your updated address, phone number and email address so that notices can be received when sent.

The Probation Department of the Superior Court will not collect regular child support payments after the child attains age 19. If there are arrears that must be enforced and collected, probation will, however, collect these monies until that arrears are paid in full (unless the court terminates such supervision of support earlier).