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How Child Support is Paid in New Jersey
In New Jersey there are three different ways one can collect on a child support award that is granted per the terms of your divorce. And while as a New Jersey divorce mediator I am all in favor of keeping it friendly, sometimes the easy route isn't always the best route. Before we begin, allow me to remind you of a few important facts about child support in New Jersey. First is that child support is a non-tax issue. That means it is simply a transfer of funds from one party to another to cover their share of the parenting expenses for the parties' children. It is not deemed as income to one party or a tax deduction to the other - it is a completely tax-neutral transaction. The second important note on child support is that it is the obligation of BOTH parties to pay child support. While it may appear as if one party is actually paying, that simply represents the difference in the two parties' shares.
Option 1 - The Direct Pay Method
The easiest way to pay child support is to set up a schedule of payments on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis and simply write a personal check from one party to the other. As I am fan of using technology to make things easier on everyone, you may also wish to consider setting up a regularly occurring debit from one parties' account to the other. This way the payments are made directly and there's no need for one party to go to the mailbox and the other to go to the bank. The pro of this method is that it's easy and the con is that you're trusting the other party to pay. And while I'd like to believe parents will always do the right thing and pay their child support on time, it's not always (sadly) the case.
Option 2 - Wage Garnishment
In this case if necessary you can appeal to the courts for a wage garnishment as child support is a contractual obligation and enforceable with garnishment. If you choose to pursue this route, you will need to first obtain an order form the courts allowing the garnishment and then work with the ex-spouses' employer to have the garnishment put into effect. The pro of this route is that the payment will be made in a timely fashion and is enforced by a court order. The cons are that it may be costly to go to court to obtain such an order and it would most certainly be embarrassing for the parent who chose not to pay to have their employer know their business. Then again, that may just be the impetus one needs to write that check and avoid the whole ugly mess of garnishment in the first place!
Option 3 - State Agency
Here in New Jersey we have the New Jersey Child Support Payment Center which can help parents facilitate the payment of child support. The pros of using such a service is that there's no cost to either party and the state can get involved in the enforcement should it be necessary. The cons are that again, it may prove embarrassing to one party and may create an extra layer of administrative burden but if you can't go with option 1, then you're really only left with garnishment or using the payment center.
In New Jersey, a separation agreement is any legal document signed by both spouses outlining the terms of the separation. Subjects resolved in a separation agreement can include child support, child custody, debt allocation and asset distribution. Notarizing the document ensures its validity, since there is no such case-type in New Jersey that provides for a "legal separation." Spouses wanting child support during the separation period, however, must file a claim with the New Jersey probation department.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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