Many people go into child support and custody negotiations with the assumption that child support will end when their children turn 18. For a lot of cases, this is true, but it’s not guaranteed.
In New Jersey, child support is determined based on the state guidelines and other factors, like your children’s best interests and your family’s income. It’s possible for child support to fluctuate over time or to require changes as your lives change in the coming years, but it’s always an obligation until the court states that it no longer is.
Not all child support cases are the same
Something to keep in mind is that not all child support cases are the same. You may have three children and a support case that states that you’ll pay support until they reach the age of 19. You may also be told that you’ll pay until 18 for two of them but for life for a child with a disability. Alternatively, you might end up paying support until your children graduate high school. The exact arrangements will depend on the state’s requirements as well as your personal situation.
Child support is an important part of your children’s lives, because it provides them with the balance of having the financial support they need from both parents.
What can you do if you can’t afford to pay child support?
Many parents go through times in their lives when they can’t afford to pay the support that they’ve been ordered to pay. For example, if you lose your job or have a medical condition that prevents you from working, you may not have the income to pay.
If you can’t afford to pay support, it’s important to seek out a modification as soon as you can. If you just pay less than is ordered or refuse to pay at all, you could face serious consequences in court.
Remember, most parents will pay support at least until their children are adults. If you need to have different arrangements, there may be options, but they have to be agreed upon and approved by the court.