Understanding Child Support Arrears in New Jersey
Child support is a financial obligation that non-custodial parents are required to pay to support their children's upbringing. In New Jersey, when these payments are not made, the overdue amounts are referred to as child support arrears. Dealing with back child support can be stressful and daunting; however, it is crucial for the well-being of the children involved.
Steps to Address Back Child Support Arrears
- Review Your Child Support Order: Ensure you understand the terms of your child support order. Review the amount you owe and the payment schedule. If your circumstances have changed significantly, you might be eligible for a modification of the order.
- Contact the New Jersey Child Support Agency: If you are behind on payments, reach out to the agency promptly. Ignoring the issue can lead to enforcement actions such as wage garnishment, tax refund interception, or even incarceration.
- Negotiate Payment Arrangements: The agency may work with you to develop a reasonable payment plan for your arrears. Be honest about what you can afford and be sure to comply with the agreed plan.
- Seek Legal Advice: A family law attorney can provide guidance on dealing with arrears. They can help negotiate with the other parent or represent you in court if necessary.
- Avoid Further Arrears: Make it a priority to keep current with your payments moving forward. This will prevent additional arrears from accumulating and demonstrate your commitment to fulfilling your obligations.
Potential Consequences of Non-Payment
Failing to pay child support in New Jersey has serious consequences. The state can take various enforcement actions, such as:
- Garnishing wages or unemployment benefits
- Seizing bank accounts or property
- Suspending driver's, professional, or recreational licenses
- Reporting to credit bureaus
- Passport denial for arrears exceeding $2,500
- Potential jail time for contempt of court
This was exemplified in a landmark case where a non-custodial parent faced incarceration after accruing substantial child support debt. It served as a stern reminder of the legal system's commitment to enforcing child support orders.
Modification of Child Support Orders
If you experience a significant change in circumstances such as job loss, illness, or disability, you may qualify for a modification of your child support order. To do this, you must file a motion with the court explaining your situation and provide evidence supporting your claim for modification.
Dealing with back child support arrears in New Jersey requires proactive measures and an understanding of your rights and responsibilities. By taking prompt action and seeking professional advice when necessary, non-custodial parents can manage their arrears effectively while ensuring their children's needs are met.