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Child Support Enforcement Options in New Jersey


Residential parents count on child support payments to meet their children’s shelter, food, clothing, medical and other expenses.  Children are also entitled to share in the good fortunes of their parents, as well.   So, for example, if a paying spouse receives a substantial raise or a new job, his or her children are entitled to an increase in child support.  And, even though there is a Judgment of Divorce requiring payment of child support, about a third of obligors either pay less than the ordered amount, or they pay nothing at all.

Technically, the State of New Jersey through the county Probation Department has jurisdiction over unpaid support matters. Probation can initiate enforcement actions when child support arrears become substantial.  However, an individual who is owed substantial support or arrears, can file this or her own enforcement action.

When obligees partner with a Somerset County child support attorney for enforcement matters, they have control over the means. And, for the most part, private attorneys have the same available collection options as does the Probation Department.

Demand Letter

In many cases, a demand letter from an attorney does the job without pouring gasoline onto a smoldering fire. When obligors learn that obligees have taken independent legal action, they often do the right thing. Frequently, demand letter settlements include a lump sum payment in advance and an accelerated payment plan that covers current child support as well as the arrearage.

Wage Garnishment

Usually, wage garnishment is the “or else” in a demand letter, as in “make payment arrangements or else.” Most divorce decrees contain latent wage withholding provisions. Obligees simply need to locate the obligor’s payroll company and activate the order.

Obligors are supposed to inform the court of their employers’ names and keep that information current. If they do not, an attorney can usually discover this information relatively easily. And, even if employers use out-of-state payroll companies, once a wage garnishment is served upon the company it must honor it or they will be in violation of Federal law.

Somerset County judges almost always sign withholding orders without holding hearings. So, the execution is usually a rather simple matter as well.

Property/Credit Liens

Wage withholding orders are not always available or appropriate. Perhaps the obligor is self-employed or unemployed. In situations like these, a property or credit lien is usually the next best thing.

In New Jersey child support obligations and arrears show up on any property lien searches.  So, if an obligor owns real estate in New Jersey, the overdue support automatically becomes a lien that must be paid prior to sale, refinance or other disposition.  Also, if someone inherits money, prior to being allowed to release the money to the obligor, the attorney for the estate must do a judgment search and pay off any child support obligations prior to releasing the funds to the obligor.  New Jersey will also intercept Federal and State tax refunds to satisfy outstanding child support obligations.

Contact a Diligent Attorney

Child support obligees have several enforcement options. For a confidential consultation with an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer, contact Katherine K. Wagner, Attorney at Law.

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