Under state laws, parents must financially support their child until they reach the “age of maturity,” which is 19 in New Jersey and 21 in New York. Once a child support order has been established in a court of law, or through a written agreement, the non-custodial parent is under legal obligation to pay a certain amount until the child is emancipated. When these payments are missed, this is known as child support arrears or back child support.
All states have policies and legislation that define statutes of limitations regarding the collection of back child support. Some states like California do not have a prescribed deadline, meaning that child support arrears remain payable indefinitely. The laws on statute of limitations for collecting unpaid child support vary greatly from state to state. Each has its own set of requirements and procedures when it comes to implementing back child support – a process that is enforced by the state’s Child Support Department.
Statute of Limitations for collecting back child support
For residents of New Jersey, the statute of limitations on collecting back child support is 5 years after the child reaches the legal age of emancipation. For years, this was set at 18, but recent changes in child support laws have amended this to 19. Child support obligations in the state are stopped completely once the child turns 23, with exceptions made in only extreme circumstances.
In the state of New York, the statute of limitations allows parents to collect unpaid child support for 20 years from the date of default.
Consequences for unpaid support payments
Numerous states, including New Jersey, have strict policies when it comes to child support arrears. The state may employ various tactics for collecting past due amounts, such as:
- Income withholding
- Credit bureau reporting
- Tax refund offsets
- Lottery prize intercepts
- Seizure of assets
- Intercept of monies awarded in lawsuit settlements
- Revocation of driver’s license
- Denial of passport application or renewal
- Possible warrants and incarceration
Whether it is worth the time, effort and money to sue for back child support payments is largely determined by the financial status of the debtor and best discussed with an experienced family law attorney. If the debtor does not have wages to garnish, or assets of value, the likelihood of recovering what is owed not very high.
KGG family lawyers in New York and New Jersey
If you live in Northern New Jersey or New York and need expert legal assistance with matters relating to divorce proceedings, child custody or child support payments, contact the law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman. Our team of skilled family lawyers in Bergen County and Rockland County has been helping clients navigate the complex legal terrain of divorce since 1975. Schedule a private consultation by calling (888) 624-4916.
Additional Resources on Statute of Limitations for Child Support Arrears:
- National Legal Research Group, NJ Statutes of Limitation https://www.nlrg.com/hs-fs/hub/79400/file-15662842-pdf/docs/nj_statutes_of_limitations.pdf/documents_attorney_writing_samples/nj_statutes_of_limitations.pdf
- Sapling, What Is the Statute of Limitations on Back Child Support? https://www.sapling.com/8404471/statute-limitations-back-child-support
- NY Courts.gov, Child Support http://www.nycourts.gov/Courthelp/family/childSupport.shtml