After parents separate or get divorced, states require that child support payments be made to allow a child to continue to enjoy a certain standard of living. The amount that must be paid is based on a number of factors, including the number of children, the percentage of time they spend with each parent, and each parent’s gross income. In New Jersey, the amount is calculated according to the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. The general practice is that the child support payments are entrusted to the custodial parent and that parent must use those funds for the benefit of the child. The payments are supposed to be for the child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, housing, etc. However, an issue can arise when the custodial parent is not using the money in that way.
This allows the paying parent to object, if he or she learns that the other parent is using child support to feed an addiction to alcohol, drugs or gambling or if a parent is not otherwise using money to provide for child’s basic needs. In New Jersey, as long as the child support payments are being made, what they’re being used for is not strictly monitored by the family court. The paying parent would have to go to court and prove that the child is not receiving the benefit of the payments. If successful, the paying parent may get a court order to make payments to a third person or into a bank account until the child reaches 18.
When a child support order is in place, generally the paying parent often pays support at least until the child turns 18 if he or she is no longer in school. In New Jersey, there are many cases where parents are ordered to continue paying even after the child is over 18, since there is no fixed age where child support payments must stop. When a child becomes financially independent, is married or in the miltiary, the paying must file papers with the court asking that the support be terminated. This is known as “emancipation.” Support may only terminate automatically if a divorce judgment or settlement agreement specifies a date, age or circumstance when support stops – that should be clear in all final divorce papers. With the assistance of Charles J. Vaccaro, JD Candidate May 2015