Whether you were married and are now divorced — or if you were never married but are no longer together — if you and a former partner have children together, you both bear a legal responsibility to provide the basic necessities for your children. Unfortunately, too many children are going without the financial support they need when a parent fails to live up to a court order to pay child support.
However, there is good news for these children. There are laws in place in every state and at the federal level to ensure court-ordered child support is enforced. The first step is, of course, to have a New Jersey court establish child support. This can be done with the help of an experienced child support lawyer who will file a request with the court. This is usually done at the same time a married couple with children is divorced; however, if the couple was never married, it can still be done as a separate legal action.
Once a child support order is on record, it must be obeyed. If it is not, you can ask your attorney or the New Jersey Child Support Program for assistance in enforcing the order. The state has many enforcement tools at its disposal, including but not limited to:
- Withholding the income of the delinquent party
- Reporting the arrears to credit bureaus
- Seizing a tax refund check
- Seizing bank or other financial assets like stocks
- Suspending the delinquent party’s drivers or professional license
- Seizing any lottery winnings
- Issuing a warrant for the arrest of the delinquent party
- Entering a judgment against the delinquent party
Your attorney can also request a Family Court hearing where a judge will decide the action to be taken against the delinquent parent. This may include issuing an arrest warrant, requiring immediate payment in part or in full, and/or requiring additional payments in addition to the support arrears.
You may be able to get the U.S. Office of the Inspector General to intervene if the delinquent parent lives in another state and has not paid child support for a year, owes more than $5,000 in back support, or if he or she has moved to another state or country to avoid paying child support. Punishment sought by the OIG may include fines and up to six months in prison for a first-time offender. If child support hasn’t been paid for more than two years, or the delinquent parent owes more than $10,000, he or she can face fines of up to $250,000 or up to two years in prison, or both.
At Cistaro Law, we are not only concerned with your divorce today, but also with your quality of life long after your case is over. Your family law issues deserve to be managed with dignity and respect. You can prepare to civilly resolve your divorce, heal, and move on with your life with a legal team that has helped individuals all over New Jersey to heal and prosper. Contact us today for your free consultation.