Can I Be Forced to Pay Back Child Support?
Like every other state, New Jersey mandates that a child’s parents be responsible for supporting them until the age of majority is reached. The age of majority is usually 18, but the payments may last longer if the child is disabled, not self-sufficient, or still in high school. Child support payments can also be legally terminated if the child enlists in the armed forces, gets married, or becomes legally emancipated. State laws and judges guide how the payments are made and what happens when a parent misses payments.
What is Retroactive Child Support?
In New Jersey, child support orders have prospective effects, meaning that when judges order parents to pay support, this pertains to future payments. However, judges can order parents to make the payments dating back to the original filing for the action of child support. For example, if a filing was in February of one year and the final divorce decree was not issued until July of that year, the custodial parent can request payment for those months in between.
This is not the same thing as back child support. That is when a parent misses payments, which are then categorized as past-due. A custodial parent may choose to seek the court’s help when owed payments are not received.
What is the New Jersey Child Support Enforcement Program?
This program supports families to ensure consistent court-ordered child support payments. Its Probation Child Support Enforcement Program steps in when child support payments are not received, and court-ordered health care coverage (for dependent children) is not provided. In some cases, this agency will take action in the following ways:
- Enforcement hearings
- Income withholding
- Intercept tax refunds
- Credit bureau reporting
- Seize assets in bank accounts
- Suspend driver’s licenses.
The Program also helps locate parents who have not been paying child support, verifies and enforces support orders, collects the payments, and establishes paternity. The Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 gives the state attorney general and district attorneys the authority to collect back child support for custodial parents. The Act also allows the authority to penalize parents who do not make their payments. The Uniform Interstate Family Support act extends this authority when either parent relocates to another state.
What Happens When Parents Cannot Pay?
Parents who have the means to pay back child support but refuse to do so could face jail time, but parents who are unable to make full payments and seek help are not usually put in jail. They have the option of filing a motion with a court for a modification of child support that reflects the parent’s current financial situation.
It is important to file this motion because otherwise, the custodial parent could end up taking the non-custodial parent to court. If that happens to you, there could be a judgment of delinquency. It is also important to know that when a parent is in debt, back child support cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. States also have statutes of limitations for seeking back child support, and these can also influence a case.
A Marlton Family Law Lawyer from Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. Can Offer Help With a Back Child Support Case
If you need trusted legal advice with a back child support case, look no further than Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. A Marlton family law lawyer from our team can help you straighten things out and protect your rights throughout the process. Call our Marlton, New Jersey office at 856-890-9400 or complete our online form for a confidential consultation. We help families throughout South Jersey in Marlton, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and statewide.