TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee passed legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz that would remove from law the procedures for collecting child support from legally responsible persons on behalf of children in the care or custody of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.
“Efforts to collect child support on behalf of children who have been removed from their parent’s custody are often counterproductive,” said Majority Leader Ruiz (D-Essex). “Not only does the state spend more seeking reimbursement than they actually collect, the added financial burden, and possible legal consequences, for the parents can often prove to be a barrier for reunification even when it is the desired outcome and in the child’s best interest.”
The bill, S-4248, would stipulate that all current unpaid balances of these child support obligations, all warrants and unsatisfied civil judgments issued on the basis of failure to pay or for the sole purpose of enforcing an obligation, and any current outstanding liens issued to reimburse the Division of Child Protection and Permanency would be null and void. The procedures that outline how the Division is to seek reimbursement would be removed from law.
The updates to state law concerning the liability for the cost of maintenance for children who are in the care or custody of the Division are part of an effort to align with revised policies issued in 2022 by the federal Children’s Bureau, which allow for agencies to define more narrowly where it is appropriate to seek child support from legally responsible persons.
The bill was advanced in a 6-1 vote.