NJ Child Support Attorneys Advising on the Options if your Ex can’t Pay because they are Incarcerated
All children in New Jersey have the right to their parent’s financial support.
If one parent pays child support to the other parent, that money is for the children’s health, welfare, and maintenance. The amount of support a non-custodial parent pays is configured according to state guidelines that take into consideration the income of each parent, their time-sharing arrangement with the children, and the expenses of the parties, mandatory retirement, healthcare, and other payments the parties pay monthly, like taxes, childcare, medical expenses, student loans, or private school tuition.
Although the child support guidelines exist to form a basis for child support, judges may award a different amount than what the guidelines suggest if there is good reason to do so. For example, some children have special needs, or some parents have other child support obligations. These and other circumstances form the basis for the court’s child support amount consideration, such as the standard of living the child enjoyed with both parents, the parents’ assets, education, work history, and roles they have played in their children’s lives historically. And the age of the child or children makes a difference as to their financial needs. Young children have financial needs different from older children, who may be planning for college.
Can I stop paying Child Support if I have a special situation?
Taking all relevant factors into the equation, the court orders a child support payment that becomes the law of the parties’ divorce or child custody arrangement. Since the payments belong to the children, a paying parent may not pause or cease payments without permission from the court in the form of a child support modification. They cannot unilaterally stop paying child support, even if they suffer hardship, like illness, unemployment, or incarceration. Since the parent receiving the child support payments can enforce the order through the state Child Support Agency, the paying parent may be surprised to find out that the child support arrears continue accruing and the state keeps track of child support payments even if they are incarcerated. New Jersey state laws ensure children receive support and health coverage, so the payor must pay or modify their order.
What Happens if a Parent in Prison Stops Paying Child Support?
If a parent does not fulfill their child support obligation, the New Jersey Child Support Agency can collect past-due child support and current child support through various enforcement methods. They can garnish or withhold income from the payor’s paycheck, report the debt to credit reporting agencies, suspend the payor’s driver’s license, deny them a passport, seize assets, offset tax refunds, or lottery prize money, and get both civil judgments and criminal enforcement through warrants. The enforcement method depends on the payor parent’s income, as a wage earner or independent contractor, for example. For wage earners, income withholding makes the most sense as the employer can deduct child support payments directly from the earner’s paycheck for all outstanding child support.
Getting Money from other Sources if your Ex is in Jail in New Jersey
The Agency may also intercept lottery winnings and tax refunds to pay for child support if the payor parent owes at least one month of child support and wins $600.00 or more in the lottery. If that is not enough to pay all the outstanding support, the Agency can confiscate a portion of a federal or state tax refund or other rebates to pay the child support order. The Child Support Office can also attach bank accounts, stocks, and bonds to collect an unpaid support amount of one month’s support or more. Any civil lawsuit awards may likewise be attached. However, if the custodial parent received public assistance for children, the amounts owed to a public assistance agency get paid first from any of the sources from which the Agency collects.
Other enforcement methods aim to incentivize the payor to fulfill their obligations, like reporting child support arrears of more than $1,000.00 to credit rating agencies so that the delinquent payor cannot get credit for major purchases, like homes and cars. Also, the non-custodial parent may lose any licenses they hold or are applying for, such as driver’s, professional or recreational licenses, if they owe six months or more of child support payments. Passport agencies also check to see if an applicant owes child support through government agencies that report child support debts to the U.S. State Department. A child support arrearage of $2,500.00 can justify a passport restriction and denial.
A NJ family court may enforce a child support order upon a hearing request by the custodial parent.
Both parties appear in court, after which the court decides to order immediate payment, arrest, or other order to get child support paid. A court can issue a warrant for disobeying a court order or a missed court appearance. Moreover, a child support judgment may attach to real property the debtor owes, and they cannot sell or transfer the property without satisfying the debt. And delinquent payors cannot escape their child support debt as New Jersey uses the New Hires Directory to find non-paying parents at their work. The directory tracks employees through their employers by releasing the employee’s social security number, name, and address.
So, even if the parent ordered to pay child support is incarcerated, they still must pay support until and unless they file for a hearing with the family court to pause or reduce the child support payments. And even then, a court may order the child support payment arrears, if any, be paid by means other than wages if the payor has assets or any sources of income, such as rental income, residuals, or royalties. Whether your children’s parent owes an outstanding child support obligation, or you need assistance filing a motion to get child support arrears paid, you will need a family law attorney to make sure you are not accruing insurmountable child support arrears that your children need.
Ex isn’t paying child support while in jail? Call one of our attorneys to schedule a confidential consultation at our Brick office.
New Jersey offers a wide variety of options to enforce child support payment. Our family law attorneys handle both types of cases, whether you are the one needing a child support payment modification or the one wanting to enforce a child support obligation. We know what to anticipate as defenses from the other side and how to position your case for the best outcome while protecting your interests.
Do not wait until a child support debt, whether yours or the other parent’s, is overwhelming. Contact Bronzino Law Firm at (732) 812-3102 to book a free consultation and get immediate assistance to discuss your case today. Our team is ready to receive your call. If you live near Jackson, Wall, Point Pleasant, Sea Girt, Brick, or another town in South Jersey, do not hesitate to contact us for help today.