The New Jersey Child Support Program has made changes to improve its customer service to the families of New Jersey. These improvements allow customers greater access to case information, court information and the ability to make payments securely, through an automated PIN process, and efficiently through enhanced website and phone systems. The improved Interactive Voice Response System and website will also assist customers accessing additional family support services. New Jersey Child support customers will also be able to speak to a Child Support Representative from the expanded hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Customers may also access enhanced customer services by calling 1-877-NJKIDS1 (1-877-655-4371) or through the website, www.njchildsupport.org.
WHAT ARE CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES?
Child support services include: locating the parent who has a duty to support your child(ren), legally determining if that person is actually the parent of your child(ren), entering an order for child support and medical support, collecting the support payments, keeping an accurate record of all payments and enforcing the order if the parent fails to pay as ordered.
WHO PROVIDES THESE SERVICES?
In New Jersey, the Division of Family Development (the State Child Support Agency), county welfare agencies, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Family Division of the Superior Court, county probation divisions, and Sheriff’s Departments all work together to provide support services to your family.
WHO CAN GET THESE SERVICES?
You can get child support services if you live in New Jersey, are the parent or legal guardian and the custodial parent of the child(ren).
DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR THESE SERVICES?
There is no fee charged if you are receiving or applying for public assistance. If you are not receiving public assistance, there is a small fee to offset the cost.
WHO IS THE CUSTODIAL PARENT?
The custodial parent is the parent who has custody of the child(ren) and who has filed for support services. Grandparents, relatives or other guardians of the child(ren) may also be the custodial parent if they have custody and have filed for support services.
WHO IS THE NON-CUSTODIAL PARENT?
The non-custodial parent is the person who has a duty to support the child(ren) and who is ordered to pay support either to the custodial parent or through the probation divisions for the child(ren).
WHAT DOES THE COUNTY WELFARE AGENCY DO?
The county welfare agency’s child support unit works to locate the non-custodial parent and to establish paternity and support. If you are applying for or receiving TANF, you must cooperate with the child support unit to be eligible for assistance. Failure to cooperate will render you ineligible for any assistance.
WHAT DOES THE PROBATION DIVISION DO?
By law, the probation division must enforce the orders of the court, including orders for child support and alimony. The probation division usually handles the case only after a support order is entered. All support orders are paid through the probation division unless the court orders otherwise.
WHAT DOES FAMILY COURT DO?
The Family Court Intake Units are responsible for docketing and scheduling cases for court where a complaint has been filed to establish, enforce or modify a child support order. In some counties they will also conduct a consent conference.
HOW ARE PAYMENTS MADE?
The court will order that all support payments be made through the probation division. If an order was entered before February 17, 2005, the probation division in the county where the non-custodial parent resides is responsible for monitoring and enforcement. Effective February 17, 2005, monitoring and enforcement remains with the probation division where the order was entered. Questions regarding enforcement or payment should be directed to probation. If the non-custodial parent pays through Somerset, Middlesex or Mercer Probation, questions must be directed to the new Call Center at 1-877-655-4371. All other probation divisions may be contacted directly. If you receive TANF, payments that are made will be sent to the county welfare agency to reimburse them for the assistance they pay to you. Each month that the non-custodial parent pays his/her support order, you will receive up to $50 of the amount paid on the current support in addition to your TANF check. This is called the Child Support Disregard.
HOW WILL I KNOW IF PAYMENTS ARE BEING MADE?
You may get this information each month by calling the Automated Child Support Hotline at 1-800-621-KIDS. You must have your child support case number to get this information and must be calling from a push button phone. The Hotline also has general information about the child support program and the services it provides. The Hotline is available in both English and Spanish, 24 hours a day, seven (7) days a week.
HOW DOES THE COURT SET THE AMOUNT OF MY CHILD SUPPORT?
The amount of support is set by using the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. The support amount is based on the income of both parents.
WHAT IF THE NON-CUSTODIAL PARENT DOESN’T PAY?
If the non-custodial parent doesn’t pay, the probation division will take steps to enforce the order. These may include requiring the non-custodial parent’s employer to take money out of his/her pay, having the past due support taken out of the non-custodial parent’s state and federal tax refund or returning the matter to court for enforcement.
DOES MY SUPPORT ORDER AUTOMATICALLY END WHEN MY CHILD(REN) REACH AGE 18?
No. There is no fixed age in New Jersey when support automatically stops. Once your child turns 18 or otherwise becomes financially independent either you or the non-custodial parent must file papers with the court asking that the order be terminated or changed. Based on the facts, the court will decide if the child no longer needs support from the parents. This is known as “emancipation.”
WILL THE AMOUNT OF MY CHILD SUPPORT ALWAYS REMAIN THE SAME?
Federal and State laws require that all child support orders be reviewed every three (3) years for possible adjustment. While you are receiving TANF, the county welfare agency is responsible for reviewing the case. If you are not receiving TANF, you may request your case be reviewed by the welfare agency in the county where your order was originally venued.
YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS THE CUSTODIAL PARENT:
In order for the Child Support Agency (CSA) to help you properly, you must:
Provide available information and documentation at the time of application to assist us in handling your case and immediately inform the CSA of any new or changed information.
Supply accurate identifying and location information on the non-custodial parent.
Complete all documents as requested and required for the CSA to establish and/or enforce a support order.
Appear for genetic tests as requested (if you need to have paternity established for your child).
Appear and testify at court hearings if necessary.
Appear at the designated CSA office upon request to provide written or verbal information.
Notify the CSA immediately if there is a change in your address, telephone number or the custody of your child(ren).
The information provided by you or otherwise collected by the CSA is confidential and subject to state and federal safeguarding requirements.
You are personally liable for the return of any amounts paid in error and received by you. The CSA has the right to adjust future support payments to recoup any amounts that are overpaid or sent to you in error.
If you receive any support payments directly from the non-custodial parent, another state CSA, the non-custodial parent’s estate, the satisfaction of a lien or from any other legal mechanism, you must agree to send such payments to the NJ CSA. (Direct payments are child support monies sent to you without going through the CSA).
OTHER INFORMATION ON SERVICES:
The Child Support Agency selects the enforcement technique based on the quality and availability of case information and state law. A custodial parent cannot choose which remedy will be used to enforce child support orders.
THE CHILD SUPPORT AGENCY IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO:
Handle matters involving visitation, custody, or property settlements; or
Prepare and sign papers on your behalf (for example, bankruptcy claims, requests to emancipate a child)
Only the Superior Court can take such actions.