Child support mistakes New Jersey families can avoid | Lane & Lane, LLC
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Child support mistakes New Jersey families can avoid

New Jersey parents may think that if they both agree to a child support arrangement, they do not need to seek legal action or a modification through the courts. However, the state is not obligated to honor any child support agreement negotiated between the parties without it being approved by the court. Not only will the parent receiving the support not be protected, but neither will the parent making payments.

One common mistake parents may make is to modify payments outside the realms of family court. Even when parents have an amicable relationship, if certain modifications or changes are proposed and agreed upon, those changes are not enforceable without court approval. For instance, a parent may say he or she will accept less for support for a certain period, but the other parent can still be held legally responsible for the amount originally ordered by the court.

Moreover, once a child reaches the age of majority or is emancipated, and there are still other children in the home receiving support, the paying parent cannot simply stop paying that portion of child support attributed to the now-emancipated child. The parents must go to court to terminate the paying parent's support obligation to that child and recalculate his or her obligation to the remaining minor children. It is not enough for the parties to agree to a reduction -- regardless of whether the agreement is in writing or oral.

If New Jersey parents believe that a change to a child support agreement is appropriate, they need to petition the court for a modification. The reality is that no guarantee exists that the relationship between the parents will remain amicable. Therefore, without a modified court order, the receiving parent will not be able to enforce the agreement, and the paying parent could still face legal action for not making court mandated payments. 

Source: richmond.com, "Avoiding Common Child Support Pitfalls", Shannon Otto, Feb. 12, 2015

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