Under New Jersey law, child support is considered to be the duty of both parents and children are entitled to share the income of both parents. New Jersey Child Support Guidelines are specific as to what expenses are covered by child support. A comprehensive list of the expenses covered by child support can be found in Paragraph 8 of the New Jersey Rules of Court Appendix IX-A and include such basic necessities as housing, food, clothing, transportation, healthcare, education, entertainment, and other miscellaneous expenses.
If you are currently paying New Jersey child support and it comes to your attention that the support checks are not being used in the best interests of the child, your first step should be to contact your divorce attorney and advise them of the situation. Your attorney’s first question may be, “How do you know?” Which leads to the next step — gather evidence!
If the source of your information is your child, you will need to get as many specifics as possible. Please do not interrogate your child as they may feel they are betraying the custodial parent. Try to have a casual conversation about your child’s concerns that the child support money is not paying for their essentials. Are they experiencing a lack of nutrition? Not getting books for school? Missing out on school sports or other activities because they are being told there is no money?
You may also want to check on social media or ask others close to your family situation if they have the same observations. If things are still not clear, you may want to engage the services of a private detective or financial expert for help.
Typically, courts will not become involved in trying to ascertain where child support payments are going unless the spending conflicts with the best interests of the child. If you can provide sufficient proof that the custodial parent is not behaving in the best interests of your child — and this behavior is causing injury to the child — the court may be willing to consider revisiting questions of custody and support.
Some noncustodial parents who find themselves in this situation may ask if it is possible to pay child support directly to the child. This was not possible in New Jersey until 2016, when a New Jersey Superior Court ruled in the case of Kayahan v. Kayahan that a noncustodial parent may pay a portion of child support directly to a child over the age of 18, taking into consideration the following factors:
- The child must be over 18 and demonstrate an appropriate level of maturity.
- The child must have a history of responsible behavior.
- The noncustodial parent must have a record of making timely child support payments.
- Direct payment to the child must not adversely affect the ability of the custodial parent to maintain a home for the child.
- The payments must be earmarked for specific expenses — i.e., college expenses.
- Usage of the direct payments must be approved by both parents or by the court.
- The child must provide both parents with documentation on how the payments were spent.
When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of an experienced family law attorney often proves crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your family law matter. Contact us today for your free consultation.