Child support in New Jersey is an obligation that a parent must pay in a timely manner. Child support is meant to support the child. Sometimes, the receiving parent relies on child support payments to provide the child with basic necessities. Therefore, it is obvious that failure to pay child support will negatively affect the child. 

However, failure to pay child support may also negatively affect the paying parent. Even just one missed child support payment, also known as an arrearage, can have serious consequences that should be avoided if possible. However, the paying parent does have some options for avoiding the negative effects of missing a child support payment.

Enforcement of the Child Support Order

Typically, a court will take any action against a non-paying parent for a missed child support payment in New Jersey — until the receiving parent files the proper paperwork to enforce the child support order. If the receiving parent does not file any paperwork to enforce the child support order, then the court may not take any action.  

Once the receiving parent files the proper paperwork, the probation division will set an enforcement hearing. The paying parent must attend these hearings. At the hearing, a probation division staff will present the facts of the situation to a hearing officer. That hearing officer will make a recommendation based on the facts they hear. 

Either the paying parent or the receiving parent can object to the hearing officer’s recommendation, which elevates the matter to a judge. If neither party objects, then the hearing officer’s recommendation goes to a judge for review and approval. At that time, the hearing officer’s recommendation will become an order of the court. 

The court can order many things to ensure that the paying parent catches up on their child support, including:

  • Paying an additional support amount
  • Driver’s license revocation
  • Jail

The court has many more options at its discretion to enforce child support orders.

Options for Avoiding a Child Support Arrearage

Things happen, including missing a child support payment. However, there are options for the paying parent to avoid missing payments and to avoid the court taking action on the missed payment. 

Use an income withholding order

An income withholding order is a court order garnishing the paying parent’s child support directly from their paycheck. It works like direct deposit, but for making your child support payments. Using an income withholding order is an easy way to ensure that the paying parent does not miss any child support payments.

Income withholding orders may also be applied to benefits like Social Security disability. If the paying parent changes jobs or moves, they must notify the probation division so that the income withholding order can be appropriately updated.

Catch up on the arrearage

Even if the receiving parent does not file any paperwork to enforce the child support order and the court does not take any action, the paying parent will still owe the missed child support payment; it does not simply go away. 

Instead, the missed payment automatically becomes a judgment that may appear on the paying parent’s credit or as a lien against the paying parent’s property. Therefore, if possible, it is a good idea to try to catch up on the missing payment as soon as possible to avoid the receiving parent filing paperwork to enforce the child support order or the child support arrearage becoming a judgment. 

Modify the child support order

If the paying parent can no longer afford to make the child support payments, the paying parent may seek to modify their child support obligation. A modification of the child support order is when either the receiving parent or the paying parent requests that the court change the child support amount. 

In order to qualify for a modification, the parent requesting the modification must show that they are experiencing “changed circumstances”. 

Some examples of possible “changed circumstances” are:

  • An increased cost of living
  • An increase or a decrease in the paying parent’s income
  • The paying parent lost a house or apartment
  • The paying parent is living with another adult
  • The paying parent has become employed or is earning more money, or
  • the federal income tax laws have changed

These “changed circumstances” must be permanent, substantial, and unanticipated. 

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.

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Hackensack, NJ 07601, United States