Bergen County Child Support Enforcement Lawyer
New Jersey law states that financial support is a duty all parents owe to their children. When parents live separately and a judge orders one parent to pay child support to the other, it is also an enforceable legal obligation.
New Jersey law also states that child support is the child’s right, not the parent’s. If your co-parent has fallen behind on child support or refuses to pay, you have legal options for ensuring compliance. If you are a parent who has fallen behind on support because of reasons beyond your control, you can take steps to attempt to limit the possibility of enforcement actions while ensuring your child gets the support they require.
Our experienced child support attorneys at Moskowitz Law Group are here to help. A Bergen County child support enforcement lawyer can take the time to understand your specific situation and recommend the most effective strategy to help you meet your goals.
When a Parent Is Unable to Pay
Sometimes issues like job loss or a health problem cause a parent to fall behind on their support payments. Although it could be embarrassing to bring the issue up with the co-parent, initiating a discussion is a far better way to respond than to stop paying or offer only partial payments. If the issue eventually ends up in Court, the Court will want to see that the parents at least attempted in good faith to work out a compromise.
If the situation is likely to persist for more than a few months, requesting a child support modification may be appropriate. A Bergen County child support enforcement attorney can help determine whether the facts and circumstances of the case would make a request for a modification appropriate. Ideally, co-parents could negotiate a new arrangement that provides the minimum payment the child support guidelines require but reduces some of the other expenses the parent was carrying. Courts usually accept a modification that parents agree to if it does not go against the children’s best interests.
If co-parents cannot resolve the issue, a Bergen County child support enforcement attorney can contact the co-parent or the co-parent’s attorney and try to arrive at an acceptable solution. In some cases, the paying parent could petition the court for a modification over the co-parent’s objection. In other cases, the receiving parent could initiate an enforcement action to compel the paying parent to bring the arrears up to date.
Probation Division Could Take Enforcement Action
New Jersey places responsibility for enforcing child support orders with the County’s Probation Department. A parent not receiving child support as agreed could seek help from the Probation Division to collect the arrears.
The County Probation Division has multiple enforcement options, including:
- Wage garnishment
- Entering a judgment against the paying parent for the arrears
- Imposing a lien on the paying parent’s home or vehicle
- Intercepting a state or federal tax refund
- Reporting the arrears to the credit reporting agencies
- If the parent owes at least $2,500, asking the State Department to suspend the parent’s passport
- If the parent has been in arrears for at least six months, suspending their license to drive, hunt, fish, and any professional license they hold
If a court imposes a judgment on the paying parent and the parent still does not pay, the receiving parent could ask the court to execute the judgment and seize or levy upon the paying parent’s property to satisfy the judgment. The property the court seizes or levies upon could include bank accounts, retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, vehicles, and real estate.
When the probation department takes enforcement action, each party is entitled to attend a hearing before a court officer or judge. A child support enforcement lawyer in Bergen County can represent a parent at the hearing and ensure the hearing officer or judge understands their position.
Responding to Willful Non-Payment
Sometimes parents make purposeful efforts to avoid child support. They might hide assets or intentionally earn less than they could. A court could consider a parent engaging in such actions as depriving a child of their right to support and might take harsh action in response.
Rule 5:6A of the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines allows a court to assign income to a parent for child support purposes, even if the parent is not earning it. The process is called “imputing” income, and courts do so if they believe a parent is underearning or underreporting income to avoid or lower their child support obligations.
As a Bergen County child support enforcement attorney can explain, a court could impute income using whatever method seems right under the circumstances. They will examine the parent’s education, work history, and marketable skills to estimate what the parent could earn. In some cases, the judge could request the parent’s tax records to investigate whether the parent might be hiding assets.
Work With a Bergen County Child Support Enforcement Attorney
Whether you are having trouble paying the support you owe, or your co-parent is not paying support as ordered, you need to be proactive. Your children have the right to financial support, and ignoring the problem means denying them their due.
If unpaid child support is an issue in your family, contact us at Moskowitz Law Group right away so that we can get to work for you. A Bergen County child support enforcement lawyer can help you find a resolution.