Child support negotiation involves a number of issues that can complicate the process. For example, some divorced parents want to waive or reduce a child support agreement as part of a larger divorce settlement deal negotiated between the parents. New Jersey judges can intervene by altering the child support amount or changing the date on which child support terminates. In some cases, judges can even void an otherwise mutually acceptable agreement. These thorny problems can be resolved by working with an experienced New Jersey family law attorney.
Sometimes divorced parents want to negotiate an agreement that reduces or eliminates a child support obligation in exchange for some other benefit, but problems can emerge because New Jersey courts recognize that the right to child support belongs exclusively to the child. This fact doesn’t change even when both parents agree to modify or terminate a child support agreement. The New Jersey Appellate Court case of Faro v. Heyden held that “even an explicit waiver agreement cannot vitiate a child’s right to support.”
Since the parents’ interests can differ from those of the child, New Jersey law allows a judge to step in and represent the child’s interests when evaluating child support agreements. This type of judicial intervention is allowed because a child can’t effectively argue for his or her own rights. Under the principle of parens patriae, a judge has the power to modify the terms of a child support agreement or replace the agreement altogether. Parens patriae is a legal term in which the Latin phrasing means “parenting by the nation.” It is a concept that allows a judge to determine what is in the best interest of the child.
New Jersey’s views on emancipation can also prompt a judge to alter a child support agreement. A child support obligation terminates when a child is emancipated, and although the child’s 18th birthday is legally significant, there is no fixed age when emancipation occurs. Before turning 18, a child may be emancipated by marriage, by joining the military, or by a court order.
Emancipation can also be delayed if the child has special medical needs or if the parents are supporting a child who is attending college. This means a child may be entitled to continued financial support well into his or her twenties, a fact that can catch some parents off guard. Parents may enter into a child support agreement that purports to end on the child’s 18th birthday, only to find that the termination date was off by a factor of years.
New Jersey judges have a strong interest in regulating child support agreements. Child support is a technical issue that requires an understanding of New Jersey child support laws as well as the precedents created by our courts. The principles of parens patriae and emancipation are just two ways in which our state’s legal system can add complexity to your child support arrangement.
Child support agreements can deeply affect the finances of both the parents and the children for decades into the future. When you need to create or modify a child support agreement, you should talk to a New Jersey child support attorney who understands child support legislation as well as case law. Contact Mark Goldstein, Esq. his firm of child support attorneys at Goldstein Law Group by calling 732-967-6777, or use the contact link on this page to request a consultation.
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