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August 2015 - Shining a Light on Child Support

A child walking on the beachAugust is National Child Support Awareness Month, an observance established in 1995 to bring attention to the problem of child support in this country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 23 and a half million U.S. children live with a custodial parent and less than half of these custodial parents receive child support; of those who do, only 43.4% receive full payments on schedule.

The objective of National Child Support Awareness Month is twofold: 1) to offer assistance to custodial parents in enforcing their child support orders, and 2) to help non-custodial parents meet their child support obligations.

Child support amounts are determined by state; there are no national guidelines. In New Jersey, Family Courts put the child’s best interest first and will intercede in matters of child support if the parents cannot come to a mutual agreement. The court considers the income of both parents, as well as the cost of child care, medical expenses and other expenses directly related to the child in making its determination.

Most non-custodial parents who fail to meet their support obligations are unable – not unwilling – to do so mainly due to a lack of a job, and many factors lower their prospects of finding a new job, such as insufficient education, criminal records, drug or alcohol abuse, physical or mental health issues, and even a lack of transportation.

Failure to meet child support obligations is a serious matter that could result in income withholding, including wages, lottery winnings, tax refunds, and unemployment benefits. Additionally, courts can seize bank accounts, investments and other assets; revoke licenses, including driver, occupational, professional, and sporting or recreational; issue arrest warrants; and deny passports.

It is important to note that child support orders can be modified if there is a valid reason. If you have a problem collecting or meeting your child support, petition the court for a review rather than take matters into your own hands. While legal representation is not required, it is usually recommended because of the emotional nature of these matters.

As published in the August 2015 issue of the "Clinton Township Newsletter."
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