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Non-Dissolution Cases (child support; custody; paternity; parenting time)

The Non-Dissolution (FD) unit handles matters relating to custody, parenting time, paternity, child support, medical coverage, spousal support, modifications of existing orders, and emancipation for unmarried parties or for married couples who have not yet filed for a divorce.

To file a complaint you must be at least 18 years of age. A person under the age of 18 may file for child support and paternity if they are emancipated, but they are encouraged to come with their parent, guardian, or other adult relative.

Individuals seeking custody of a child involved with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF) must have a letter of referral from the DCF unit, before filing for custody. This letter can be obtained from the DCF case worker.

If child support, custody, or parenting time was granted in a divorce action, the motion to change custody must be filed with the Dissolution Unit of the Family Court.

Contact Information:

Atlantic Cape County Administration Building
1201 Bacharach Blvd.
Atlantic City, New Jersey, 08401
FD Cases - Atlantic City

Mark Moynihan 594-3475
Loretta Owens 594-3472

Cape May County Courthouse
9 North Main Street
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
FD Cases - Cape May
Richard Brady (609) 463-6600

Overview

Filing Questions

Court Process

Representation Questions

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act


What is non-dissolution paternity and/or a support case?

These are cases which involve issues of paternity (who is the father) and child support and/or alimony payments, and/or custody and parenting time issues between persons who are not married or those persons who are married but have not filed for divorce yet.

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I need money to support my child. What do I do?

If you are located in Atlantic County: If you are located in Cape May County:

You may come to the Atlantic County Civil Courts Building, 1201 Bacharach Blvd, Atlantic City, New Jersey, 08401 and file a complaint for paternity, child support and medical coverage. The telephone number is (609) 594-3454.

You may come to the Cape May County Courthouse, 9 North Main Street, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210 and file a complaint for paternity, child support and medical coverage. The telephone number is (609) 463-6600.


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How long will it take before my complaint is heard by the court?

When you file a complaint, a copy of the complaint and a notice to appear is sent to you and to the absent parent. The initial hearing is usually scheduled about three-six weeks after the complaint is filed.

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What information do I have to bring?

The parties must bring proof of identification, W-2 income tax forms, social security cards and the last three pay stubs. If either of the parties receive Public Assistance, they must bring their welfare card. Both parties must also fill out a financial statement, provided by the court, before the hearing is conducted. It is the information on the financial statements that assists the court when it calculates the amount of support payments as set forth by the state guidelines.

Note: You must have the address of the party you are filing against.

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Who will hear the complaint?

All complaints for the establishment of paternity and/or support are initially scheduled before and are heard by a Family Division staff member in Family Court or by a Hearing Officer appointed by the Administrative Office of the Courts. A hearing officer is not a judge but a trained professional who is authorized by the Court Rules of the State to conduct hearings, take testimony (listen to what each party has to say), and make recommendations regarding these issues. Either party may appeal the Hearing Officer recommendation at the end of the hearing. If the matter cannot be resolved at this level, it is then referred to a judge.

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What happens during the hearing if the issue is paternity?

If the issue is paternity, the man is asked if he is the father of the child. If he admits that he is the father, he must waive the right to have a paternity test before an order of paternity is entered.

If the man denies being the father of the child, a genetic test is ordered. If the Welfare Board is involved, Welfare will pay for the test, however, after paternity is established the father may be have to reimburse the cost of the test. After the test results are returned, a hearing is then scheduled before a Probation Officer or a Hearing Officer.

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What happens during the hearing if the issue is child support?

If the issue is support, the Probation Officer or Hearing Officer makes a recommendation regarding the amount of support to be paid. These amounts are determined using Child Support Guidelines set by the State which are based on the total income of both parties. There is a work sheet that is filled out by each party. Each parent is responsible for contributing to the support of the child. If there is no disagreement regarding the amount, an order is drawn up and is then signed by a judge. If the absent parent is employed, the Probation Department will arrange for the employer to deduct this amount from his/her wages.

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What if there is a disagreement regarding the amount?

If there is a disagreement regarding the support amount, the matter will be brought before a judge who will ask why the initial amount was unacceptable and will then make a determination and will set the amount of support to be paid.

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What happens if the matter is listed for court and the non-custodial parent (parent who did not file for support) fails to appear?

If the non-custodial parent (parent who did not file for support) has been properly notified of the court date by regular and certified mail and/or personal service and fails to appear, a warrant can be issued for his/her arrest. Sometimes an order of support, paternity or custody will be entered even if the non-custodial parent fails to appear in court. This is called a "Default Order."

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Should I bring my child to the hearing?

No, children are not permitted unless the court specifically requests that they appear.

Do I need an attorney? What if I cannot afford an attorney?

An attorney is not needed for establishment cases. However, if the matter cannot be resolved and it is referred to a judge, you may wish to hire an attorney. The Atlantic County Bar Association may be able to assist you. They can be reached at (609) 345-3444. Or if you are a resident of Cape May County you can call the Cape May County Bar Association at (609) 463-0313.

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What can I do if the absent parent lives in another state?

The Family Court also handles Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) cases. Support complaints can be filed in their county of residency through the Superior Court Family Division. The custodial parent (the parent with the child) can pick up UIFSA forms available in the Superior Court Family Division. This package of forms must be completely filled out and your signature must be notarized. Four copies of the following information are also required: birth certificate, social security card, proof of earnings (pay stubs, W-2 forms or Income Tax Returns), a listing of child care expenses and medical expenses.

If it is at all possible, try and provide a photograph of the absent parent so that it can be sent to the responding state. A Probation Officer will review the completed package. If everything has been properly filled out and all necessary papers are in order, the package will then be forwarded to the state in which the absent parent resides. The responding state will then process the complaint and attempt to contact the absent parent so that they may begin proceedings to have an order of support entered.

After all of these things have occurred and an order of support is entered by the other state, the Family Division is then notified of this finalized order for support.

Once an order has been established in the other state the Family Division will close its interests and forward your case to the Child Support Enforcement Division. The Child Support Enforcement Division will assign staff to monitor your case and correspond with the other state if any future problems arise.

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How long does this whole process take? 

Depending on the state and the nature of the complaint, it can take as little as six months or, in some cases, longer.

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Who takes action if the absent parent does not pay?

It is up to the state where the absent parent lives to take enforcement action against the individual if he/she fails to pay the court ordered support.

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Who do I contact with questions about my Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) case?

An investigator from the Child Support Unit will be assigned to monitor your case. You should contact the investigator if you have any problems or questions.

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If I have any questions regarding the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) process who may I call?

Please click here for further information regarding the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.


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