Child Support Can’t Be Bargained Away
By Snyder & Sarno on March 03, 2015
Child support is often a contentious issue in any matrimonial case involving children. Child support is the obligation of parents to provide for their children financially. The New Jersey Appellate Division recently addressed a child support issue in the unpublished case of E.C. v. C.W.
In E.C. v. C.W., after much contention, the parties entered into an agreement where the Defendant-father gave up any rights to child custody in exchange for Plaintiff-mother giving up any claims that Defendant pay child support. The trial court approved the consent order, stating that Plaintiff had entered into the agreement voluntarily and knowingly.
On appeal, the New Jersey Appellate Division reversed the trial court’s decision. The court decided, instead, that the consent order violated public policy, and therefore should have been vacated. In particular, the Appellate Division said that the court cannot participate in the waiving of child support without performing a “best interests” analysis. In addition, rights to child support and child custody “cannot be traded off in a consent order.” See Wagner v. Wagner, 165 N.J. Super. 553, 556 (App. Div. 1979).
The Appellate Division pointed to the settled law regarding child support. Specifically, the right to child support belongs to the child, it is not a right of either parent. See Pascale v. Pascale, 140 N.J. 582 (1995). Furthermore, a parent is “presumptively required” to pay child support in order to provide for the needs of his or her child. See N.J.S.A 2A:34-23. Ultimately, the Appellate Division remanded the case for further consideration by the trial court.
If you are currently involved in a matrimonial matter and child support is an issue, call the experienced attorneys at Snyder & Sarno, LLC for help with your case. We can be reached at (973) 274-5200.
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