What Families With Special-Needs Children Need to Know About the Revised Termination of Child Support Law

On January 21, 2020, the Governor signed S4286 into law, which amended the Termination of Obligation to Pay Child Support Law at N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.67 et seq. This amendment, which went into effect December 1, 2020, authorizes the court to order continuation of child support, as well as Title IV-D services, beyond the age of 23 when the child has a severe mental or physical incapacity that causes the child to be financially dependent on their parents.

What did the old law say?

If you follow child support legislation in New Jersey, you may remember that in early 2017 the Termination of Obligation to Pay Child Support Law was passed which codified an automatic termination of child support. If you don’t remember – take a look at my blog on the subject here.

In a nutshell, the law provided for automatic termination of a child support obligation when a child reaches age 19, for cases where child support is being paid through Probation. This is an administrative process and does not require the parties to file anything with the Court in order for the order to be terminated – parties only file an objection with the Court if there is a reason that child support should continue (e.g. the child is attending college full-time, is disabled, or the parties have agreed to a different age to terminate child support, to name a few).

The law further provided that under no circumstances would child support through the Court/Probation continue for a child past the age of 23. This meant that no matter what – if your child was in a five-year college program, or going to graduate school, or was disabled and unable to work or live independently –child support would be terminated. In addition, the protections of having child support go through the Court would no longer be available, including the garnishment and monitoring of the obligation, and administrative enforcement of the obligation in the event that it was not being paid.

Why is the amendment important?

With the amendment, children with special medical needs, whether mental or physical, can continue to receive support from both parents – and can take advantage of the Probation department’s “super powers” in collecting and enforcing the obligation. This is a game-changer for families with children who have special needs – now the parent who primarily provides care for the child will not have to have the sole burden of financially supporting their child.

What if I have a special-needs child whose child support was already terminated administratively due to reaching age 23?

Informational Transmittal Number 20-22 from the State of New Jersey, Department of Human Services states that an informational notice was sent on October 1, 2020 to all parties in all cases that have had an obligation terminate as a matter of law, when a child reached age 23. If a party would like to request continuation of support based upon incapacity, they must file a motion with the Court.

If you have questions about child support, the new amendment, or need help filing an application to have support be reinstated, the family law department at Hoagland Longo can help. The family law attorneys at Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas, LLP are fully informed and can assist you in understanding the intricacies of this law, or any others, and how it impacts you and your family. Should you have any questions or wish to schedule a free initial consultation, please do not hesitate to contact me at amackaronis@hoaglandlongo.com or at 732-545-4717.