The Parents of a child have a responsibility to take care of the child, regardless of the relationship that exists between them. Provisions should be made for shelter, food, clothes, etc. However, when parents separate one of them often leaves and the childcare duties to the other, taking no responsibility at all. Child support laws have been put in place to create legal obligations for parents to take part in the care of their children.
Child Support Process
Child Support Services in New Jersey are provided by the Child Support Agency (CSA) through the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS), in collaboration with the Division of Family Development (DFD), the Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) (the State Title IV-D agency), County Welfare Agencies (CWA), the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), the County Family Divisions of the Superior Court, and County Probation Division. Parents who wish to apply need to print an application form from https://www.njchildsupport.org/getattachment/Services-Programs/Custodial-Parents/Applying-for-child-support-services/Applying-for-child-support-services/NJ-IV-D-Application-for-CS-Services-6-16-20.pdf.aspx which they must fill and sign, before mailing it to the Family Division in their county of residence. Those who do not know the address of the Family Division where they reside can check the directory at https://www.njchildsupport.org/Services-Programs/LOCATE-LOCAL-COUNTY-OFFICES.aspx.
The applicant is required to supply as much information as possible about themselves and the noncustodial parent (obligor). Providing accurate information shortens the child support establishment process as it makes it easier to locate the obligor. Some of the details required are full name, date of birth, Social Security Number, race, last known address, phone number, as well as physically descriptive details like hair and eye color, height, etc.
For the purpose of locating the other parent, the utilizes the State Parent Locator Service (SPLS) and the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS). These allow the CSA to check the details provided against existing records and can help narrow down the exact location. When the noncustodial parent is located, a notice of the child support case is served.
If the parents were married when the child was born, the husband is assumed to be the child’s father. However, if the parents were not married but the man agrees that he is the father of the child, he can sign a Certificate of Parentage (COP). Unlike other states, minors (teen parents) can establish paternity on their own without the consent of a parent or legal guardian. In cases where the man denies that the child is his, a genetic test will be carried out on both parents and the child. If the test comes back with at least a 95% probability of fatherhood, the man is presumed to be the father.
Once paternity has been established, CSA can now go about deciding on an appropriate amount for the child support order.
Parents who are applying for full child support services are required to pay a one-time $6 fee.
How Do You Receive Child Support
Parents receiving child support payments from the New Jersey Child Support Program have two payment options: the direct deposit, and the New Jersey (NJ) Debit MasterCard. Both options are much safer and quicker than receiving checks in the mail.
Parents who opt for direct deposit will receive their child support payments into their savings or checking accounts. To sign up for this method, parents must download and fill a Direct Deposit Authorization Form available at https://www.njchildsupport.org/getattachment/Services-Programs/Custodial-Parents/Direct-deposit/How-to-start-direct-deposit/Direct-Deposit-Form-July-2012.pdf.aspx.
Parents who do not specify direct deposit as their preferred method of receiving payments are automatically enrolled for the New Jersey Debit MasterCard program. Such parents are issued an NJ Debit Card and will have their payments made to the card account. The card can be used to get cash at ATMs, make purchases, etc. For more details on the card, visit http://www.eppicard.com/.
Amount Receivable as Child Support
Child support calculations in New Jersey are determined by pre-established guidelines. These guidelines are based on an Income-Shares Model, which considers the income of both parents. Other factors like childcare, expenses, medical expenses, etc. are also taken into account. While establishing the child support order, the court may also establish an accompanying medical support order to provide health coverage for the child. The full child support guidelines can be found at https://www.njcourts.gov/attorneys/assets/rules/r5-6a.pdf.
For simplicity and ease of use, a Child Support Quick Calculator is also available. This is not a legal tool, but rather a self-help tool that can give parents an idea of how much can be expected from the child support order. This calculator can be accessed at http://quickguide.njchildsupport.org/.
Enforcement of Child Support
The Child Support Agency identifies cases where the noncustodial parent has defaulted on payments and takes certain actions to collect the overdue child support. These enforcement actions vary and include:
- Income withholding: This is most effective against parents with regular employment. The employer is issued a notice to deduct a specified amount from the paycheck of the parent to be used to offset the arrears.
- Credit Reporting: Parents may be reported to credit agencies and get a reduced credit score if their child’s support arrears exceed $1000.
- Lottery and Casino Prize Intercept: Parents whose arrears exceed a month’s child support by at least $25 may have lottery winnings of $600 and above, or casino winnings of $50000 and above diverted to pay for their outstanding child support
- Tax Refund Intercept: Once the child support payments owed exceeds a certain threshold, state and federal tax refunds may be intercepted to settle the debt.
- Seizure of Assets: Stocks, bonds, and money in bank accounts can be seized to pay off child support of parents who have arrearages.
- License suspension
- Passport Denial