Enforcement of Child Support

I have previously written about the custody and parenting time issues that may be presented when a child is moved from state to state within the country.  But what of child support?

In an interesting recent unpublished decision, Flynn v. Flynn, the New Jersey Appellate Division examined the question: in a case where multiple

When we all think of insurance, we often think of medical insurance, car insurance and homeowner’s insurance as these seem to be the necessary and everyday types of insurance. Life insurance, which for some can be synonymous with high premiums, is one of the first costs to go when seeking to reduce your budget. I

One of the issues to resolve in a divorce cases is the allocation of the dependency exemptions. While the IRS says that they should go to the custodial parent, by and large, states, including New Jersey feel that they can allocate the exemptions between parents and there is case law to that affect.

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“Why won’t they throw him in jail?  He is $10,000 in arrears in child support!”  This is a sentiment many matrimonial practitioners frequently hear from their clients. Often times clients think that courts automatically throw an obligor spouse in jail for the non-payment of support.  While not uncommon in other states, in truth, the use

 As if it isn’t hard enough for custodial parents to collect child support arrears, the New Jersey Appellate Division just decided a case in which it was held that the United States government cannot be held responsible for damages when it fails to pay support arrears   from payments due to an obligor. 

 In the recent case of Jacobson v. United States, Steven Tetz was ordered to pay child support to Mindi Jacobson, the mother of his child.   Steven was receiving disability benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the NJ office of child support ( the NJ state agency which is in charge of collecting child support) sent a garnishment order to the SSA. Steven fell behind on his child support payments, and in March of 2008 when he dies, he had arrears of more than $76,000. However, and here’s the kicker, in December of 2007 the SSA had given him a retroactive payment of almost $60,000. Needless to say, Steven did not give any of that to Mindi or his daughter.

 

When Mindi found out, she brought an action against the government, claiming that it owed her for the amount of arrears plus interest, attorney fees and costs for its failure to properly garnish the disability. She brought the matter under the laws, both state and federal that provide that a person or an entity that is responsible for the collection and payment of child support fails to withhold payment, it may be responsible for the amount it should have withheld.


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It is not uncommon for divorcing parties or parties who may have never married but share a child in common to face the issue of the costs of childcare.  In a time and economic climate where more often than not, both parents must work to support a household, payment of child care costs is an issue that must be addressed.

When calculating the Child Support Guidelines, which is the method NJ courts use when determining how much child support one party will pay to another for a child or children, part of the consideration allowed is a credit for child care costs paid.  It is not necessary that the cost of child care be included in the Guidelines calculation, as sometimes there are situations where parties will negotiate payment of this expense outside of the Guidelines calculation.


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Driving around town this weekend, I saw many lawn signs, like those you would see for a political candidate, advertising a "Free Divorce Seminar." The old adage, "you get what you paid for" comes to mind. 

While I am aware of the phenomena of these "seminars" over the last several years, putting aside potential conflict of

Usually, the "you snooze, you lose" defense is not often a successful legal tactic.  However, in the recent unreported Appellate Division decision in Adler v. Adler the former wife’s application seeking unpaid child support, alimony and other obligations brought some 30 years later was denied essentially because she waited to long to collect.  To read the full text of the decision, click here. 

Pursuant to the Judgment of Divorce entered in 1973, the ex husband was required to pay $235 per week as undifferentiated child support and alimony until the oldest child was emancipated, at
which time the weekly support was to be reduced by $50 per week.  That same $50 reduction was to occur when each of the two younger children became emancipated. The JOD also obligated
defendant to pay: the mortgage, taxes, insurance and utilities on the marital home; all reasonable and necessary medical expenses for the children; health insurance premiums for ex-wife and the children; $3,500 to the ex-wife on or before August 15, 1973; $6,231.85 for various unpaid bills arising during the marriage; college tuition for the parties’ three children; and orthodontic treatment for the parties’ two sons.  Other than an enforcement Order from November 1973, there were no other Orders in the case.  In addition, in 1975, the Probation Department closed their account, though arrears existed at that time, due to direct payments being made.

Between 1975 and 1978, the ex-husband stopped making payments.  There was an enforcement motion filed in Maine in April 1978 and another Order entered later that year in Delaware County, New York that held the husband in contempt. Another enforcement motion was filed in late 1979 but their appears to be no further enforcement efforts taken thereafter.


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As previously reported in this Blog here and here, New Jersey has taken the initiative on penalizing individuals who fail to pay their court-ordered child support or who have failed to show up for court hearings.  In just one week in December 2008, nearly 1,000 delinquent individuals were rounded up as part of the