What is New Jersey's statute of limitations for child support back payments?

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Child Support Arrears in New Jersey

In New Jersey, child support is a legal obligation that does not simply disappear over time. The statute of limitations for collecting child support arrears (back payments) is a critical aspect of family law that parents should be aware of. This article aims to clarify the regulations surrounding the collection of overdue child support payments in the state of New Jersey.

The New Jersey statute of limitations for child support arrears is set forth under N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.23a, which states that child support orders are enforceable until paid in full, and thus, there is effectively no statute of limitations for collecting back-owed child support. This means that even after a child has reached the age of majority, a parent can still be held responsible for unpaid child support.

To illustrate the implications of this law, consider a scenario where a non-custodial parent has missed several years’ worth of child support payments. Even if the child has turned 18 or older, the custodial parent retains the right to claim those arrears. In another example, if a non-custodial parent makes partial payments but still has an outstanding balance when the child reaches adulthood, the remaining debt is still collectible.

Historically, there were different statutes of limitations for child support arrears across states, leading to confusion and inconsistent enforcement. New Jersey’s approach with no statute of limitations reflects a strong public policy to ensure that children receive the financial support they are due, regardless of their age.

It is essential for both custodial and non-custodial parents to understand that child support obligations do not expire in New Jersey. Non-custodial parents who have unpaid child support should seek to resolve these arrears as soon as possible to avoid accruing interest and potential legal consequences. Custodial parents are encouraged to pursue overdue payments diligently, as they have the law on their side indefinitely for collecting owed support.

In conclusion, New Jersey’s statute of limitations—or lack thereof—for collecting child support back payments demonstrates the state’s commitment to ensuring that children's needs are met financially. This law serves as a reminder that parental responsibility extends beyond the age at which a child becomes an adult and that legal avenues remain open for enforcing these obligations.