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The law on child support payments may soon become a bit less supportive to New Jersey children. On July 23, the New Jersey Senate passed a change to the law to make the default rule that child support terminates when the child receiving support turns 19. There would, however, be a number of ways to avoid this termination. The parties can agree in advance that child support payments won't terminate at 19 by specifying a different date for such payments to end in a court order. The parents could also go to the judge and agree that support would continue until a different date. In addition, one parent or the child could petition the judge to extend the payments. Finally, if the recipient of the support lives in an out-of-home placement via the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, the payments would continue. Additionally, the bill includes a section that would permit children to sue their parents to receive continued support after the child reaches 23 years old, a provision which has garnered some negative attention. The bill has not yet been approved by the New Jersey Assembly, nor by Governor Christie. 

Currently, New Jersey child support guidelines provide that support payments can stop at emancipation, which the law stipulates can occur any time after the child turns 18 and/or becomes financially independent. This will often occur after the child graduates from college, finds full time employment, gets married, or joins the military. The parent is the party that would apply to the court for termination of the child support order, if another court order doesn't already specify a termination date. The new law would shift the burden from the parent being the party required to seek termination of the payments, to the child to seek to have those payments continue after age 19.
Negotiating child support and seeking out payments from nonpaying parents can be taxing, and the legal requirements confusing. Contact experienced New Jersey family law and child support dispute attorneys to help you navigate the family court system. For a consultation on your family law matters, call the Morristown law firm of Smith & Doran today, at 973-292-0016. 

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