Enforcing Child Support in New Jersey
Child support is a common part of divorce in New Jersey, although many people find it a bitter pill to swallow. Regardless of a person’s feelings about giving a part of their paycheck to their ex, if a court orders child support as a part of a divorce proceeding or other family law matter, then the person ordered to pay must do so. Of course, many people shirk their legal obligations for one reason or another. If your co-parent refuses to pay you the child support that they owe, what are your options? Read on to learn about enforcing child support obligations in New Jersey, and call a seasoned New Jersey child support lawyer for help with a divorce or family law matter.
Child support is a legal requirement
If you have gone through a divorce or other family court proceeding and the court’s final judgment included an order for child support, then the party ordered to pay must do so. The court’s order has the same power and effect as any other court order. Failing to pay child support constitutes a violation of a court order. Violating a court order is illegal and can subject a party to a variety of enforcement mechanisms and penalties.
If your ex is not paying what they owe, you either work with the New Jersey Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) or petition the family court for a hearing to enforce the child support obligation. Your New Jersey family law attorney can file the paperwork and seek enforcement on your behalf. If you and your attorney demonstrate that your ex has a payment obligation and has failed in that obligation, and your ex does not have a sufficient argument to modify their obligation, then the court will order your ex to pay. If they fail to do so, the court has the power of law to penalize them.
Options for enforcement
Courts have a variety of means to ensure that parties who owe debts, such as child support and alimony, are forced to meet their legal obligations. When you successfully persuade the court that your ex owes you child support and that they have no good reason to modify their obligation, the court will order them to pay. The court can enforce payment obligations by, for example:
- Garnishing an obligor’s wages
- Attaching an obligor’s property, preventing sale or transfer until debts are paid
- Garnishing unemployment benefits or workers’ comp benefits
- Seizing assets, bank accounts, tax refunds, and other funds
Refusing to pay court-ordered child support is tantamount to violating a court order. Courts can hold violators in contempt and slap them with fines, damage their credit scores, revoke their driver’s license or passport, suspend their professional license, and even throw them in jail.
Stick to the courts
We have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: When it comes to enforcing child support obligations, do not take matters into your own hands. Go through the proper channels, preferably with the help of an experienced child support attorney. Some parents try to punish their ex for missed payments by preventing them from seeing the kids or otherwise exercising their custody and visitation rights. Doing so can get you in serious trouble. If your ex has rights under the court’s final divorce order or other judgment, then you must grant them their court-ordered custody and visitation. If you withhold your kids in order to pressure your ex into paying child support, you are violating a court order. You could face penalties, including fines, jail time, and loss of your child custody rights.
Dedicated Advice and Representation for Your New Jersey Family Law Matter
If you need effective legal help with child support, alimony, divorce, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.