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New Jersey offers child support amnesty week

More than 400,000 children in New Jersey depend on child support from noncustodial parents. However, the number of parents who routinely fall behind in their child support payments is staggering. Over the past several years a relatively steady rate of about 58 percent of noncustodial parents are not meeting their child support obligations. When subject to a child support order, failure to pay is a very big deal.

In New Jersey, an arrest warrant may be issued if support is not paid. However, in an effort to encourage voluntary compliance, officials are offering a weeklong amnesty period from April 28 to May 3.

During this time, those with open warrants can visit county probation departments to make payments or try to work out a payment plan without fear of being arrested. The arrest warrants of those who can reach an agreement will be cancelled. If a parent shows up but is unable to reach an agreement, he or she will be allowed to leave the premises, but the possibility of arrest sometime in the future will remain.

Child support amnesty week is not unprecedented in New Jersey, but it does not happen very often. The last time this opportunity was offered was 10 years ago. The goal of the program is to get more parents providing both financial and emotional support to their children. A spokesperson for the Office of Child Support Services said, “Amnesty week will allow parents to focus on their role in their children’s lives, rather than worrying about staying out of jail.”

While it is good that noncompliant parents are being given an opportunity to catch up and make things right, custodial parents who depend on the payments are the ones who are truly struggling. If you are having difficulty collecting the child support that you depend on to care for your children’s needs, it is a good idea to consult an experienced family law attorney to learn your options.

Source: NorthJersey.com, “NJ offering child-support amnesty,” Colleen Diskin, April 18, 2014

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