Setting and Collecting Child Support Arrearages

At the conclusion of a case involving child custody, there is almost always a child support order entered at the same time. It is also possible to have a child support order independent of a custody order. These orders will make provision for payments of child support and often also health insurance premiums by the non-custodial parent. When a paying parent falls behind in these payments, he or she is said to be "in arrears" and the receiving parent may seek to have the court enter an order for the "arrearages," which means the amount that the paying parent is behind.

To set these arrearages, it will often be necessary to file a motion with the court. Whether the child support payments are processed through the NJ probation department will make a difference as to how the process goes forward. If the payments do pass through the child support office, that office may be the one to bring the motion. This will be especially true if the parent receiving support is also the recipient of state benefits such as food stamps or Medicaid. Regardless of whether the attorney bringing the motion to set arrears is a private attorney working directly for the parent or an attorney for the state, the court will examine the evidence of how far the paying parent is behind and set a particular order for a set amount that the parent is in arrears. The court will then make a payment schedule such that the paying parent will continue to pay his or her regular monthly amount of support plus some extra to pay toward the arrearage.

There are several ways to try to collect the child support arrears once they have been set by the court. The most straight-forward is asking the court to enter a wage garnishment order. This order will take the payment for the support and the arrearages straight out of the paying parent’s pay check, removing the ability of the paying parent to unilaterally elect to not make a payment. A parent due money may also ask the court to put a lien on the assets of the paying parent, such as real estate or bank accounts. If the paying parent has substantial assets, this will often result in the arrearages being paid off much sooner. In some cases, it may also be possible to intercept the paying parent’s tax returns or lottery winnings in order to pay off some or part of any arrearage judgment. Finally, the court can order the arrest of a deficient payor.

If you are seeking to set a child support arrearage, to help you get it done quickly and correctly. We have experience in helping our clients with these types of issues. Contact us today at (732) 529-6937 to talk about your case.

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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