A parent’s obligation to financially support their child does not end when the parents divorce or separate. Under New Jersey child support laws, both parents have a legal obligation to support their children financially. That obligation may end when the child is emancipated or under other specific situations.

However, even if you believe you have a valid reason to stop paying child support in New Jersey, talk to a Bergen County child support lawyer before you stop making payments. What you believe to be a valid reason may not be a legal reason. 

Stopping child support payments without a legally valid reason could result in severe penalties, including jail time, a suspended driver’s license, wage garnishment, and seizure of other property. 

How Old Does My Child Need to be Before I Have a Legally Valid Reason to Stop Child Support Payments in New Jersey?

The Child Support Obligation Termination Law went into effect on February 1, 2017. The law clarifies the establishes conditions and procedures for terminating child support obligations in New Jersey. 

Currently, child support must continue until the child reaches the age of 19. The new law also places the burden of proving that child support payments should continue upon the recipient of the support payments. The person receiving child support payments must file a petition with the court before the child’s 19th birthday to continue child support payments. 

However, child support payments could continue until a child turns 23 years of age. In some cases, a parent may be required by court order to provide financial support beyond a child’s 23rd birthday if the child has severe physical or mental incapacities. 

If you are unsure when your child support payments should end, talk with a Bergen County child support lawyer. In addition to the age of the child, there could be other legally valid reasons to terminate child support payments. 

Legally Valid Reasons to Terminate Child Support Payments in New Jersey

Most child support payments terminate based on a child’s age. However, a child may be considered legally emancipated at a younger age. When a child is legally emancipated, the parent’s obligation to financially support the child ends. 

Therefore, other legally valid reasons to stop paying child support in New Jersey could include:

  • Your child gets married
  • The child joins the armed services
  • Your child graduates high school, but chooses not to pursue a college degree
  • A child moves out of both of the parents’ homes
  • The child obtains a full-time job
  • The child graduates from college, but chooses not to pursue a graduate degree

In addition to emancipation, there could be other situations where a parent might be able to stop paying child support payments legally. For example, if the state terminates parental rights or the parent voluntarily gives up parental rights (i.e., stepparent adoption), the parent would not be financially responsible for the child.

Parents may petition the court for a modification of a child support order. For example, a court could modify the child support order to terminate the child support obligation or reduce child support payments. A substantial change in circumstances is required to stop or modify a child support obligation.

How Do I Terminate Child Support Payments in New Jersey?

Because each situation is unique, we strongly urge you to reach out to a Bergen County family law attorney to discuss terminating child support payments. Stopping child support payments without legal advice could cause numerous legal problems for you.

For cases supervised by the PCSE (Probation Child Support Enforcement) Unit, the PCSE sends a notice to both parents 180 days before child support payments terminate. This notice will contain information about how to make a written request for continuation. Another notice is sent 90 days before the termination date if the PCSE receives no response to the first notice.

If the PCSE Unit does not supervise support payments, check with your county’s child support enforcement division. You may also want to contact the court or your attorney. 

Parents May Work Together to Support Older Children

When a parent has an older child with special needs or unique circumstances, parents may work together to continue supporting that child. There does not need to be a court order for parents to provide financial support to a child.

However, without a court order, either parent could change their mind about supporting their child. Therefore, they would not need a valid legal reason to stop child support payments. Only when there is a court order does a parent need a valid legal reason for terminating child support payments. 

A parent concerned about supporting an adult child with special needs can work with a lawyer to petition the court for support from the other parent. In that case, age would not be the only deciding factor. Instead, the judge considers all relevant factors to determine child support obligations.

Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help

Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule an appointment. to schedule a free consultation with our team.

Bergen County Law Office
1 University Plaza Dr #400,
Hackensack, NJ 07601, United States