New Jersey child support laws may be headed in new and different direction, since the State Senate recently approved S1046 that would allow for automatic termination of child support at age 19.
This bill S1046 passed by an overwhelming vote of 31-2. Under the proposed law, child support would be terminated at the age of 19 unless: 1) another age for the termination of child support is specified in a court order; 2) the parents of the child agree and a judge approves a continuation of support until another pre-set date; 3) the judge orders an extension of the obligation to pay based on an application by one parent or the child. In addition, a parent or the child can ask the court for continued support beyond the age of 19 if: a) the child is still in high school or another secondary educational program; b) the child is participating in a post-secondary education program full-time; c) the child has a physical or mental disability that was present before he/she turned 19; or d) other circumstances that the court approves.
One of the main reasons for this bill is that the New Jersey family court system is congested with child support claims. There is broad agreement that the system needs to be updated and improved. According to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, “This bill provides the courts with some relief by reducing the case load while also protecting the safety and welfare of children.”
Although the State Senate may have approved the bill by an overwhelming majority, this bill is not as popular with some New Jersey organizations. For instance, the New Jersey State Bar Association opposes the legislation because it would shift the burden of maintaining child support to the child, to prove to the court that he or she is in need of it, rather than it being a right.
This bill still needs to pass the State Assembly and be signed by the Governor before it becomes law. That won’t happen soon, because the Assembly has no voting sessions currently scheduled. With the collaboration of Kieu-Nhi Le, Rutgers School of Law Newark candidate for a JD degree in May 2016. She is the Managing Business Editor of the Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal.