Court clarifies rules on reporting child support arrears to credit reporting agencies

by Bruce Matez, Esq.

A Superior Court judge in Ocean County has determined that arrears accrued as a result of a retroactive child support initial order or increase are not subject to reporting as a delinquency of the payor to credit reporting agencies. The law allows a judge to order child support to begin retroactive to the date that an application (complaint or motion) requesting child support is filed.  Often, therefore, when the order is entered there is automatically an arrears amount established.  N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.21(a)  requires the Probation Department (collection agency for child support in NJ) to report delinquencies to credit reporting bureaus and agencies.  However, sections d and e of the statute require due process be afforded to the delinquent payor before reporting.  A payor cannot be considered “delinquent” because of arrears set solely as a result of the timing of the order.  Judge Jones ruled that the statute applies, therefore, ONLY to arrears accumulated as a result of a current child support order.  Any portion of arrears which resulted from a retroactive order does not constitute the type of delinquency which would require reporting to the credit reporting agencies.  See Cameron v. Cameron, Ch. Div.