On February 1, 2017, N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.67 went into effect. The statute codified marriage, military service and death as emancipation events warranting a termination of child support as a matter of law. The statute also mandated that child support orders monitored through the Probation Department would automatically terminate upon a child reaching the age of 19. The Probation Department sends out 2 “Notices of Proposed Child Support Obligation Termination” form prior to the child’s 19th birthday. A separate form, titled “Request for Continuation of Support” must be completed by the receiving parent and returned to Probation no later than 45 days prior to the child’s 19th birthday. The form must include a proposed date of termination of support which may not extend beyond the child’s 23rd birthday, as well as proof of the child’s full-time enrollment in school or proof that the child has a disability that existed prior to their 19th birthday.
With respect to disabled children, the parent receiving support must provide proof to the Probation Department that the child suffers from a physical, mental, or intellectual disability as adjudicated by a Federal or State agency, that the disability existed prior to the child attaining the age of 19, and that the disability renders the child in need of continued support. In that case, the parent receiving support may request that Probation monitor support until the child reaches the age of 23. In order for support to continue with judicial monitoring beyond the child’s 23rd birthday, the receiving parent must make an application to the Probate Court for a guardian to be appointed to monitor and disburse “financial maintenance.” The Court has not defined “financial maintenance” in this context nor is there a mathematical formula such as the child support guidelines. However, in cases where the child support guidelines are not appropriate, the Court addresses the factors in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(a); specifically:
- Needs of the child;
- Standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent;
- All sources of income and assets of each parent;
- Earning ability of each parent, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, custodial responsibility for children including the cost of providing child care and the length of time and cost of each parent to obtain training or experience for appropriate employment;
- Need and capacity of the child for education, including higher education;
- Age and health of the child and each parent;
- Income, assets and earning ability of the child;
- Responsibility of the parents for the court-ordered support of others
- Reasonable debts and liabilities of each child and parent; and
- Any other factors the court may deem relevant.
In light of the new statute being in its infancy, and lack of case law on the matter, the above statutory factors are the best guide for practitioners and litigants to approach the question of determining financial maintenance for a disabled child over the age of 23.
At Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, we know how important your family is to you, and we want to do everything we can to help you through the legal situation that you are currently facing. We are here to listen to your concerns, explain the law and the legal process to you, and present all of your options. Together, we can work toward the goals and make the decisions that are right for you and your family. Contact our office today by phone at (973) 868-0958 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.