Child Support

Child Support and College Expenses

Morris County Child Support Attorneys

Securing stability for your children and protecting your rights

Wondering how child support will affect you financially?

Child support is one of the more important questions with which we help clients during their divorce or post-divorce. After all, raising children can be expensive. Co-parents often want to provide their children with as many opportunities as possible while also pursuing stable financial futures for themselves.

Collaborating on a long-term plan for supporting your children alongside your co-parent can take the conflict out of planning for your child’s future. The result is a happier, more stable home life for everyone.

When we work together, everyone benefits. Especially your children.

It takes more than a collaborative mindset, though. Experience is critical to coming up with a child support plan that works now and in the future.

Our attorneys have decades of combined child support experience. At Jacobs Berger, LLC, we help clients navigate the court system, understand child support calculations set by the State of New Jersey, and work through the challenges of negotiating with your co-parent.

Helping Families Solve Child Support in New Jersey

Overwhelmed by figuring out child support?

Coming up with a good child support plan can make navigating your family’s financial future much easier for divorced or separating co-parents. It also protects your rights as a parent.

As child support attorneys, our goal is to develop flexible and future-minded child support agreements while avoiding the stress and cost of litigation. While we’re always prepared to aggressively defend your parental rights through court litigation, our first approach (once we’ve gathered the facts and the relevant proofs) is to use negotiation, mediation, and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to come to solutions that work for you and your family.

A solution for everyone

Getting the right child support plan involves several factors. Child support payments themselves are set by the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. If the parties choose not to deviate from them, the guidelines can provide consistency in how much a parent pays or receives.

These guidelines don’t dictate how payments are made, how income can or should be calculated for each parent, or even how post-secondary educational expenses are handled—nor do they mean circumstances won’t change over the years.

Make sure your children are supported and protect your rights as a parent. Schedule a 10-minute phone call with our team today.

Temporary Child Support

Life doesn’t stand still, no matter your circumstances—and a significant amount of time can pass between filing for divorce and the initiation of regular child-support payments. An option for many parents is to set up temporary child support payments.

Temporary child support payments last until a final child support agreement is reached. Whether court-ordered or agreed upon between two spouses, it can mitigate some of the financial and emotional stress that parents are under.

How is temporary child support calculated?

Temporary child support calculations are based on the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. Factors include:

  • Income and earning capacity of both parents
  • Number and ages of children
  • Special needs and other expenses, including health care, daycare, school, and more
  • Other children, financial assets and liabilities relating to prior marriages, and other personal factors

Child custody arrangements are also part of the equation. However, if you’re going through divorce proceedings, child custody—as well as living arrangements and other expenses—may not be finalized. Therefore, the amount of temporary child support may be different from the final child support calculator.

Although the amount may (or may not) be the same, your temporary child support payments won’t impact the outcome for formal child support without the proper analysis.

Child Support Modification

A good child support plan anticipates your children’s needs and makes sure they have what they need to thrive.

We want you to be prepared for the future and whatever it brings. Circumstances often change, though. In some cases, you might need to modify your child support orders to adapt to new circumstances that you or your co-parent are experiencing.

The child support attorneys at Jacobs Berger can help you pursue fair and appropriate modifications to your existing agreement. This can include increasing child support payments for the dependent party if:

  • The obligor received a raise or promotion
  • The dependent party lost their home
  • The dependent party or their children suffered a serious illness or disability
  • Federal or state income tax laws have changed

Child support payments may also be reduced if:

  • The obligor’s salary or wages are reduced
  • The dependent party starts a new job with increased income or receives a raise
  • The obligor suffers a serious injury or illness
  • Federal or state income tax laws change

Wondering if you qualify for a modification? Schedule a strategy session with one of our experienced attorneys.

How do I modify child support in New Jersey?

If you or your co-parent need to modify your child support agreement, you’ll either need to file a motion with the courts to request a hearing or agree to work through the modification with your co-parent. If you and your co-parent choose not to request a hearing, the modification can be addressed through your attorneys or mediation. In all scenarios, you’ll provide all the required documentation, including copies of the original order, prior Case Information Statements, support affidavits, and financial proofs related to changed circumstances. If you move forward with the Court, a judge will then review your request and evaluate it.

If the court finds that circumstances have sufficiently changed, it will require both parents to submit current financial information. Once the court has weighed all the factors, it will legally change your child support agreement to reflect new circumstances.

If you’re able to work with your co-parent to agree upon the new income numbers and other factors required by the Guidelines (or if you can agree to deviate and make a plan that is tailored to your family), you also have the option to prepare an agreement that modifies your existing child support without getting the court involved.

What happens when my child comes of age?

In New Jersey, all child support obligations are automatically terminated when a child reaches the age of nineteen.

You can file for a continuation of child support after the age of nineteen. However, if your child plans on attending college or post-secondary education (or if you feel they’ll need financial support after the age of nineteen) it’s better to work this fact into your original child support agreement. Learn more about planning for post-secondary educational expenses.

What if your child becomes financially independent before they reach nineteen? The supporting parent can file to terminate their child support obligations due to the emancipation of their child.

Enforcement of Child Support

Child support agreements are intended to be fair and financially accurate. They’re also meant to leave both parents able to meet the rest of their financial obligations.

This doesn’t always happen though. Sometimes a parent falls behind on their child support payments. These situations can often be solved by working together, but sometimes child support enforcement is needed to make sure the children are being financially supported.

For New Jersey parents, there are two options for resolving outstanding child support payments. The New Jersey Department of Human Services monitors money due and has the authority to help enforce payment of child support obligations.

The Child Support Program in New Jersey is administered at the county level and each county’s Board of Social Services (also known as the Probation Division), handles child support cases.

Some parents, however, prefer to work directly through the family law courts. In these cases, child support attorneys are there to help negotiate appropriate solutions.

How are child support agreements enforced through the courts?

Whether you go through the Department of Human Services or work with an attorney, the matter ultimately ends up in front of a judge in family court. In New Jersey, judges have lots of options to make sure child support payments are made and outstanding debts are settled. These options include:

  • Suspending professional licenses
  • Revoking driving privileges and/or a passport
  • Garnishing wages
  • Seizing of bank accounts or financial awards (tax refunds, lottery winnings, settlements, etc.)
  • Placing liens on assets
  • Reporting the child support debts to credit agencies
  • Assessing late-payment interest and/or potentially legal fees
  • Issuing a warrant for arrest, leading to mandatory time in jail

Some of these methods of enforcement might make more sense for your situation. That’s why an experienced child support attorney is important—they can help you understand what’s most effective for you and advocate for you and your family in court.

Make sure your children are supported and protect your rights as a parent. Schedule a 10-minute phone call with our team today.

Child Support Termination

Creating a fair and reasonable child support agreement is always our goal. It benefits everyone involved, both parents and children.

Family needs may change, though. What worked five years ago may not make sense now. Sometimes children outgrow the need for financial support or outgrow the way you and your co-parent structured their support years ago as their needs have changed.

In the state of New Jersey, child support is automatically terminated at the age of nineteen unless your agreement specifies another deadline. It’s common for child support agreements to last throughout college—the state mandates, though, that all child support agreements should terminate by the age of 23.

However, for some families, child support agreements may need to be terminated before their legal end-date if a child has become legally emancipated. The child support attorneys at Jacobs Berger can help you take the necessary steps to end child support payments under the appropriate circumstances.

How does child support termination work?

If you believe your child qualifies for legal emancipation, you can file a motion with the courts for that relief and seek to end child support payments. For most parents, though, child support will end either when their child turns nineteen, they complete their post-secondary education, or they reach the age of 23.

You and your co-parent will receive a termination notice from the state of New Jersey six months before child support is set to end, which is usually around your child’s nineteenth birthday. Both of you will have the opportunity to challenge the date of termination until your child is 23 years of age. There are also exceptions for extending support past the age of 23 if there are special circumstances. This is a fact-sensitive situation, and in most cases, requires the expertise of a child support attorney who can help guide you.

Just because your child support agreement is terminating doesn’t mean that outstanding child support debts (called arrears) are void, though. Previous agreements are enforceable until all payments are settled.

Child Emancipation

Childhood passes quickly, but for the parents of some children, it passes even more quickly.

Under some circumstances, children under the age of eighteen can be declared legally emancipated. Emancipated means that they aren’t subject to parental control nor entitled to parental financial support.

There isn’t an official cutoff or deadline in New Jersey. Instead, emancipation is contextual: only a court can officially determine whether a child can be emancipated and they thoroughly review all evidence and consider the child’s best interest before making a decision.

If you’re wondering about whether your child should be emancipated, we can help you explore your options. Schedule a 10-minute phone call with our team today.

What factors go into deciding whether a child can be emancipated?

Although the age of majority in New Jersey is eighteen, some children can be legally considered an adult prior. Several circumstances automatically emancipate a child:

  • The death of the child
  • Marriage of the child
  • Entry into the military by the child

Additionally, several events can lead to emancipation:

  • Permanently moving out of their parent’s residence
  • Obtaining full-time employment
  • Having a child of their own
  • Graduating from college or secondary schooling

Child Support & College Education

Under New Jersey law, child support agreements automatically end when a child is nineteen years old. If your child is starting college or post-secondary education, this is a critical moment in their life. How you and your co-parent support them now will have a major impact on their future.

Precedence-setting cases have established that financial support for education is mandatory. Don’t put off discussing child support and college education until the last minute.

Who is responsible for what?
How long will child support payments last?
How much will it all cost?

We can help you work with financial planners and college financial planners to understand your family’s needs and negotiate an agreement that works for everyone while giving your children the highest degree of support for their education.

What if I need to modify my existing order?

If you’ve finalized your child support agreement but didn’t account for your child’s financial needs during post-secondary education, it’s not too late. It’s possible to modify child support agreements through a court hearing and order or via a supplemental agreement with your co-parent.

Whenever possible, the most straightforward route is to mutually agree on changes with your co-parent. You can then make changes through the court via a “consent order.”

If you and your former spouse can’t come to an agreement or if there are disputes, you may need to go through the courts via a “plenary” hearing. This process involves a full hearing and court review, with the courts reviewing a thorough documentation of your income and assets, the educational background of you, your co-parent, and your child, and any other factors relevant to your case.

Child Support & College Expenses

College and post-secondary expenses go beyond tuition. Room and board, books, campus fees, and general living expenses, together with all sorts of other expenses all add up very, very quickly.

Establishing a child support agreement early on can make a big difference in how easy the next steps are for your children. Part of the process needs to be adjusting your child support termination date. In the state of New Jersey, child support automatically ends at the age of nineteen, but depending on your child’s educational goals and your family’s overall financial situation, you can delay the end date until your child reaches 23.

Whether college is in the distant future for your children or they’re getting ready to start soon, you need a plan.

Coming up with a plan means negotiating with your co-parent, working with financial planners, and understanding the costs involved in your child’s education. At Jacobs Berger, our child support attorneys help you create a realistic and fair plan that reflects the financial needs of both parents while supporting your child.

What if my co-parent won’t contribute?

College expenses can be costly, but they’re important for your child’s future. If your co-parent objects to contributing, cases in New Jersey have started to set precedence for when and how much a parent is obligated to contribute to post-secondary education.

Yet because of the complexity of educational expenses, as well as the emotional nature of financial debates, it’s important to have experienced and up-to-date legal representation on your side when deciding such an important issue.

Get Help From Our Experienced Attorneys Today!

At Jacobs Berger, LLC, our child support attorneys have extensive experience navigating the wide range of child support issues that parents experience in New Jersey.

We seek to protect your family’s financial stability and guide you through the process with the least amount of stress possible for everyone.

Schedule a 10-minute call with a team member or schedule a forward-thinking strategic planning session with one of our attorneys.

Our solution-oriented child support attorneys can help you plan for time with your child.