Can I Sue for Child Support Owed from the Time of Birth?

Mount Laurel Divorce Temporary Orders Attorneys

Under New Jersey state law, a noncustodial parent is legally responsible for child support. Practically speaking, this means that if you and your spouse are legally separated or divorced, or you are estranged from your child’s father, you can seek an enforcement order to require them to pay child support. Here, the law is clear: child support is not a punitive measure, intended to punish one parent and reward the other; rather, child support is explicitly for the upkeep and maintenance of a child, not the custodial parent.

However, there is a statute of limitations on establishing paternity in New Jersey; a paternity action must be initiated no later than within five years after a child’s 18th birthday.

Child Support and Paternity

In New Jersey, the amount of child support paid is determined under Appendix IX of the New Jersey Court Rules. In general, child support is the responsibility of both parents. However, in cases involving out-of-wedlock births, the paternity of a child link to may be unstated on the birth certificate. In cases such as these, if the mother of a child sues the putative father for paternity and establishes that he is in fact the father of her child, she has legal grounds for demanding child support from him.

What if paternity isn’t established until years after the birth of a child? Under New Jersey state law, a noncustodial parent can be held responsible for paying child support from the time of the child’s birth until the child reaches age 18 or beyond. The time frame involved will depend on what your child support agreement says and what the court determines is in the best interests of the child. In some cases, child support may be extended beyond the age of 18 if a child is still in high school or is attending a secondary educational institution.

When a child enters college, New Jersey’s child support guidelines typically no longer apply since there is an overlap with certain college costs (room and board, transportation, etc.) and Guideline expenditures. If the child lives at home, however, the court may decide to continue child support.

Back-Owed Child Support

New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines reflect the average cost of raising a child from the age of birth to 17 years old. As such, unless a child is legally emancipated, a noncustodial parent can be held financially responsible for child support going back to the birth of his child.

If a child support order is not entered until after a child is 12 years old, the amount of child support ordered will likely be adjusted upward to reflect the incremental increase in expenses of raising a child since the cost of taking care of an infant or young child is not as much as it is for raising an older child or a teenager.

Mount Laurel Child Support Attorneys at Taylor & Boguski

If you are interested in establishing the paternity of your child and seeking an enforcement order for child support in arrears, contact Mount Laurel divorce temporary orders attorneys at Taylor & Boguski, LLC, today to schedule an appointment and discuss your case.