The New Jersey Child Support Program can see you through the tough times. There is a national commitment to child support and to accomplish this, federal and state laws work together.
In New Jersey, the child support program is supervised by the state Department of Human Services, Division of Family Development, Office of Child Support Services, and is administered in individual counties. Most of your business will be handled at county offices.
The county Boards of Social Services; also known as welfare agencies, handle child support cases. The agencies along with a new jersey child support attorney work to find non-custodial parents, establish paternity and file complaints with the courts for child support and paternity. They also provide access to welfare, Medicaid, child care and employment services.
The county Family Courts schedule, conduct, record and keep track of court hearings and orders in a child support case, including issues of custody and visitation.
The county Probation Divisions monitor money due and paid for child support and help make sure the support continues getting paid through various enforcement efforts, if necessary.
Establishing paternity is the legal term for determining the father of the child. If the parents were married when the child was born, the husband is the legal father. his name will be put on the child's birth certificate.
If the parents were not married, legal paternity must be established in order to:
It is also important to establish paternity as a link to the child's past. Just the knowledge of the father's name and of his medical history can help the child in years to come.
When a father agrees that the child is his, he must then sign a document for "voluntary acknowledgment." If he does not think that he is the father of the child, the program will help you take steps, including genetic testing, to establish whether or not he is the father.
Applying for New Jersey Child Support.
To apply for child support services, contact any one of your local county offices. You can get an application at your county’s Board of Social Services (or Welfare office) or Family Court. Information and applications are also available by calling 1-877NJKIDS1. There is a one-time, $6 fee to apply for full child support services. (If you receive public assistance, there is no fee.)
You can also request partial child support services, such as:
There is a $6 fee to apply for any one or all of the first three services. Monitoring Only costs $25 a year. Full Child Support Services include all the above.
What if I need an increase or decrease in my support order or health insurance for my children?
The law allows you to request your County Board of Social Service Agency to review the amount of your child support order at least once every three years from the date the order is entered or modified by the court.
The review is based on the current income of the parents, the New Jersey child support guidelines and whether there is a 20 percent change between the current and new award. The review may result in an increase, decrease, or no change in the amount of support.
Additionally, you can ask the agency to help you get health insurance for your child if it is not included in your current order. To request a review of the amount of child support or that health insurance be added to the support order, you must write to your County Board of Social Services Agency.
You can also request that the court increase your order anytime your circumstances change (reduced income or increased need) by filing a motion either by yourself or through an attorney.
What if the non-custodial parent moves to another state?
If the non-custodial parent moves out of New Jersey, the Child Support Agency will be able to get an out-of-state employer to take the support amount from his or her wages. If this doesn't work, you need to file a petition asking that the other state enforce your support order through its courts.
The local office will let you know if this is necessary, and it will help you file the papers. Although there is no cost for filing the petition, some states charge a small fee for processing payments and may deduct it from the collection before it is sent to you.
Does my support order automatically end when my child reaches age 18?
No. There is no fixed age in New Jersey when support stops. Once your child turns 18 and/or becomes financially independent, either you or the other parent must file papers with the court asking that the order be terminated or adjusted. Based on the facts, the court will decide if the child still needs a support from the parents.
This is known as "emancipation." Generally, the court presumes that children under 18 need support from their parents. In some cases, support may continue through college or longer. Support may terminate automatically if your current order specifies a date, age or circumstance when support stops.
ENFORCEMENT: MAKING SURE CHILD SUPPORT GETS PAID
If you have an order for child support payments and the non-custodial parent is not paying, or the payments are incomplete or late, help is available to get these payments. Each case is different and is reviewed individually. Each tool is also applied individually.
When New Jersey Child Support Agency identifies these cases and takes action to get the support paid, it is called enforcement. This includes collecting money to make up for any payments not made called arrears or making sure medical insurance coverage is in effect.
New Jersey uses a computer system to record and monitor the amount of support due and paid. This system also acts automatically when many of the following enforcement actions are needed.
The New Jersey Child Support Program has many enforcement tools to make sure the child support gets paid. These include, but are not limited to:
When the non-custodial parent has regular employment, the preferred method of payment is income withholding, whereby a notice is sent to the employer, indicating the court-ordered amount, including any applicable arrears, to deduct from the non-custodial parent's paycheck.
If the non-custodial parent has more than one child support order, the total amount withheld from that parent's income would be distributed among all the cases. Employers may send one check for all employees, but must include each employee’s name, case number and social security number, as well as the payment amount to be credited to each account.
A passport application can be denied if the non-custodial parent currently owes, or had previously owed, past-due child support of $2,500 or more. The New Jersey Child Support Program will refer these cases to the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
That agency works with the US State Department to deny passport applications or renewals for anyone who reaches or passes the $2,500 threshold.
Several states, including NJ, have a zero arrears policy, which means that generally the arrears must be paid in full before the passport restriction will be removed.
Once a passport application or renewal has been denied, the non-custodial parent can contest the decision through the office of New Jersey Child Support Services by documenting:
The office of New Jersey Child Support Services will review the matter and refer it to the Administrative Office of the Courts for resolution, if necessary.
TAX REFUND OFFSET
If the amount of unpaid child support is equal to or more than the limits below, and the non-custodial parent is entitled to a federal or state tax refund or a homestead or other rebate, that refund may go to pay the child support order.
Federal Tax offset:
In public assistance cases, the amount of unpaid support must be at least $150.
Non-public assistance cases, the amount of unpaid support must be at least $500. If you had ever received public assistance and there are arrears owed to the public assistance agency, those arrears must be paid first.
State tax and homestead/saver rebate offset:
The amount of unpaid support must be equal to or greater than one month’s support obligation.
Receiving Child Support
The New Jersey Child Support Program offers two options for receiving support payments – direct deposit or the New Jersey Debit MasterCard® (NJ Debit Card) – that make receiving support payments faster, easier and safer.
Direct deposit means that support payments are deposited directly into the custodial parent's bank account (either checking or savings). To be eligible for direct deposit, you must receive your payments directly from the New Jersey Child Support Program.
To sign up, you must complete an authorization form, which is available at your local child support office or can be downloaded by clicking here.
Custodial parents who do not already use or apply to use direct deposit will receive a New Jersey Child Support Debit Card. Your support payments are posted to your NJ Debit Card account. You do not need to have a bank account.
You can use the card to get cash at banks and ATMs, make purchases or get cash back, and to check your balance. Each month you will get one free cash withdrawal per deposit.
Custodial parents who are starting or changing direct deposit or starting a New Jersey Debit Card account should allow approximately ten days for payments to reach the account.
New Jersey Child Support: 1-877-NJKIDS1
The New Jersey Debit Card
24-hour customer service line: 1-866-461-4094
website at www.eppicard.com.
Checks should be made payable to the NJFSPC and mailed to:
The New Jersey Family Support Payment Center
P.O. Box 4880, Trenton, NJ
Employers may also remit payments via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
To set up your company’s account call: 800-559-3772
Payments are also accepted via ExpertPay at www.expertpay.com, a secure online payment application system where you can make a one-time or recurring payment directly from your bank account to the NJFSPC.
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