The government continues to develop tools to motivate parents to pay court-ordered child support. These tools include administrative actions such as tax refund intercepts and wage garnishment. In New Jersey and elsewhere, some judges are turning to the threat of imprisonment as motivation to pay child support.
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.
A Morristown, New Jersey judge has declined to rule that parents must pay over $600 per month in child support, including private high school tuition, to their daughter who has sued them. The teenager claims that her parents threw her out of the house, were verbally abusive, and maintained unreasonable rules. The parents claim that their daughter, now 18, voluntarily moved out of the house because she was unwilling to comply with reasonable household expectations.
In New Jersey, non-custodial parents who fail to make child support payments can be arrested and have their wages or assets garnished. To receive the monthly payments they need, custodial parents may have to petition the court for an enforcement order.