How Child Support Works in New Jersey

Each state has its own unique approach to how child support payments are calculated, collected and enforced. While the general protocols may be similar, it’s important to know the specifics of your state, especially as they change over time. We’ve discussed child support judgment searches before, so in this blog, we’re taking a closer look at how child support really works in the state of New Jersey.

The Basics of NJ Child Support

When a court in the State of New Jersey orders a noncustodial parent (the parent with whom a child does not live) to pay child support, that parent’s obligation (the amount to be paid and frequency of payment) is determined differently than in other states.

States typically use their own adaptations of three guideline models to determine the amount noncustodial parents pay in child support. The three models include:

  • The Income Shares Model
  • The Percentage of Income Model
  • The Melson Formula

Knowing which guideline model is used to determine payment in your state is crucial because calculations can vary drastically depending on which one is being used.

New Jersey uses an adaptation of the Income Shares Model, called the Child Support Guidelines, and the courts adhere to these guidelines unless there is a compelling, circumstantial reason to deviate from them, such as an extreme income situation or an unforeseen expense.

New Jersey courts determine obligations by examining the income of each spouse. The courts then arrive at an amount that best reflects what the proportion of the parents’ income a child would receive if his/her parents cohabitated. Each NJ child support case is assigned a child support number or “CS number” by the court, and is tracked through the automated computer system, known as NJKiDS.

Will Obligations Ever Change?

A child support obligation is subject to a cost of living adjustment (COLA) every two years. This adjustment is based upon the Consumer Price Index and ensures that child support payments are reasonable for current expenses. Obligations are also eligible for review by the county welfare agency every three years in what is called a triennial review.

What Happens When Child Support is Unpaid?

When a noncustodial parent ordered to pay child support has not paid it, those funds are referred to as arrears. The clerk of New Jersey’s Superior Court will record a child support judgment. Whenever a failure to pay occurs, this judgment creates a claim for the custodial parent against the noncustodial parent, which can result in a child support lien against the assets of the noncustodial parent.

A child support lien can affect the noncustodial parent’s credit and ability to buy and sell property. An enforcement hearing can be scheduled by a custodial parent when child support is owed, so that the court may take further enforcement action.

The court can enforce child support payments through wage garnishments or through the seizure of monies received through almost any benefit program, settlement, lottery winnings or any other source deemed as income to the noncustodial parent.

When Will Child Support Obligations End?

The State of New Jersey regards the supported child’s 19th birthday as the legal termination of a noncustodial parent’s child support obligation. It is important to note that while this 19th birthday is the usual termination; the court may provide for these obligations continue until their 23rd birthday or even longer if there are special circumstances. Every case is different.

Why Do Child Support Records Matter?

Title, legal and lending professionals need to know the child support records of any parties they might work with. These records affect the financial standing of an individual. To get started with NJ Child Support Judgment Searches, contact a qualified and independent service provider now.