April 19, 2017
By Lynne Strober
New Jersey’s new child support termination statute took effect on February 1, 2017 and applies to all child support orders issued prior to or after its effective date, and will impact divorced parents of disabled dependents. It establishes 19 as the age when all court-ordered obligations to pay or provide child support and/or medical support will end, unless another age for termination is specified in a court order, which shall not extend beyond age 23. A “Notice of Child Support Obligation Termination” (Notice) was mailed on February 1, 2017 to all parents subject to a court order for child support.
If a custodial parent of a dependent with a disability seeks to extend child/medical support beyond age 19, he/she may return the "Request for Continuation of Support" form that will be attached to the Notice with supporting documentation from a government agency that provides services to individuals with disabilities. This documentation must confirm that the child has a physical, intellectual or developmental disability that existed prior to his/her reaching the age of 19 and requires continued support. Support through the Child Support Program may only be continued until the dependent’s 23rd birthday. A custodial parent may also file a motion with the court seeking to extend the obligation to pay support beyond the date the child reaches 19 years of age due to exceptional circumstances, e.g., disability, as approved by the court. If a court orders the continuation of child support beyond the date when the child reaches age 19, the order also must also provide “the prospective date of child support termination.”
If support is required beyond age 23, the parent or the disabled dependent may petition the court to convert the child support obligation to another form of “financial maintenance” beyond the age of 23. Financial maintenance means court-ordered support that is outside of the child support program and, therefore, not enforceable by the Probation Child Support Enforcement Unit.
The Notice will specify the required deadlines for parents to file their requests to extend support beyond age 19 or 23, as applicable. Parents should make sure that the Child Support Program has a current mailing address on file so that termination notices are sent to the correct address. Failure to comply with the applicable filing deadlines likely will result in a denial of continued support after age 19.