Should child support end at the age of 19?
Are you obligated to pay child support and feel as though it will never end? Three lawmakers in New Jersey want a law that clearly defines an age at which the legal end for child support is triggered.
"It is now open. There is no date. New Jersey does not have a definite cut-off for child support. This bill sets the age of 19 as the date that child support ends," said State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Trenton). "Sometime kids are still in high school at 19 and that's why we did not make it 18."
Under legislation (S-1046) co-sponsored by Turner and State Sen. Nick Scutari (D-Linden), child support could be extended to the age of 23 if a child is pursuing a graduate or post-graduate degree. The courts could extend child support payments under special circumstances, including if the child has a mental or physical disability. Both lawmakers said enacting the statute would also unclog the courts.
"Currently, our family court system is overburdened with a child support process that needs improvement," said Scutari in a press release statement. "This bill provides the court some relief by reducing the caseload while also protecting the safety and welfare of children."
The bill, which is sponsored in the assembly (A-2721) by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Trenton) stems from recommendations in the State Auditor's report on the Child Support Program in the Department of Human Services' Division of Family Development.
"Under the bill if the child dies, gets married or joins the military then child support stops at that point regardless of what the age is," Turner explained.
The New Jersey State Bar Association is opposed to the legislation. A statement on its website read in part:
"A child's right to receive appropriate amounts of support from his/her parents, for an appropriate period of time, is not well managed by automatic operations of law which put significant burdens on the parent who receives, and often depends upon, child support."