My ex has debt. Should I forget about asking for child support?


Q. We are getting a divorce and we have two kids who will be in my sole custody. My lawyer says because I make more money, I shouldn’t bother asking for child support because my ex owes a lot of money in credit cards that are only in his name and he probably won’t pay, and then I will just be fighting him for years. I think the kids could use the money for college and I should put my own emotions aside to make sure they get what they deserve. What should I do? I’m thinking maybe get another lawyer?
— Needing help

A. We’re sorry to hear about the divorce.

We’re also glad you want to look out for your children.

You should absolutely pursue child support, said Jeralyn Lawrence, a family law attorney with Lawrence Law in Watchung.

She said child support is the right of the child, and they are entitled to support.

New Jersey has child support guidelines, and the main consideration is both parent’s respective incomes, she said.

“The guidelines will generate a weekly amount that the noncustodial parent is obligated to pay in child support,” Lawrence said, noting that the support can be collected by the appropriate family support services department located in each county, and the county that will collect the child support is where the person paying child support resides.

Child support can be garnished directly from the paycheck of the person paying support, she said. The support would then be paid to the custodial parent.

“In addition to child support, the court can also order the sharing of other expenses on behalf of the kids such as their health insurance, reimbursed health expenses, net work-related daycare and other extraordinary expenses,” Lawrence said. “The court can also allocate college expenses.”

She said it’s also important that child support be secured by life insurance so that if the parent paying child support passes away, life insurance will cover those expenses, she said.

“The fact that the non-custodial parent may have credit card debt, or any other debt is likely irrelevant as the court will ensure that the payment of child support is of the highest priority,” she said.

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This story was originally published on June 6, 2023. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.