On January 19, 2016, Governor Christie signed a bill into law establishing 19 as the age when a child
support and/or medical support obligation will end. The new law allows for child support and/or medical support to continue up to age 23 for cases in which the dependent is still in high school; attending full-time college, vocational or graduate school; is disabled; if the parties reach a separate agreement; or, if continued support was granted by the Court.
The effective date of the law is February 1, 2017 and applies to all child support orders. If you have at least one independent, age 19 or older, form whom you are paying child support, as of February 1, 2017 you will receive an initial Notice of Child Support Termination from the Probation Department to which the support is being paid on or around August 1, 2016. This Notice will be sent out 180 days before the dependent's 19th birthday and will contain information on how to request a continuation of child support as well as how it will impact the amount of child support.
For families that currently have a child already over the age of 19, child support will end on February 1, 2017, rather than on the child's 19th birthday, as the new law is phased in.
If the parties' Final Judgment of Divorce or support order specifies an end date other than the dependent's 19th birthday, that date will stand and you will not be permitted to request an administrative continuation of support. However, you still may receive a Notice of Child Support Termination and be asked to send in a copy of the Judgment of Divorce or Order.
If no continuation of child support is requested, a second Notice of Child Support Termination will be sent out 90 days before the dependent's 19th birthday. If no continuation is requested after receiving the second notice, the order of support will end as of the child's 19th birthday and both parties will receive an update reflecting this change. If there is back child support owed, the noncustodial parent is still responsible for paying those arrears.
If you receive an updated order for continued support and wish to oppose it, you may file an application or motion with the court. If there are younger children on the order in addition to the 19 year old child, parents may need to file an application or motion with the court to adjust the child support amount.
If your Judgment of Divorce or support order calls for child support to continue beyond the dependent's 19th birthday – if they are in college, for example – you will receive a Final Notice of Child Support Termination 90 days before the dependent's 23rd birthday (or other extended termination date) informing you that the child support will end.
In order to ensure that all notices and informational updates are received, please confirm that the Child Support Program has your most current mailing address, cell phone number and email address.
I am available to assist anyone who is presently paying or recovering child support to explain how this new law may affect them.
Kevin P. Cooke is an attorney with Cooke & Santamauro | 3 University Plaza | Hackensack, NJ |