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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. How long will my divorce take?
  2. Where can I make child support payments?
  3. How can I receive a certified copy of my court order?
  4. The custodial parent and I are in agreement on most issues regarding child support, custody, and parenting time. Do we still have to come to court?
  5. My court notice states that my case is scheduled before a hearing officer. What is a hearing officer?
  6. Does my child support order automatically end when my child reaches 18?
  7. How is child support calculated?
  8. What are the different types of custody arrangements?
  9. I do not know where my child’s father lives. Can I still file for child support?
  10. Where do I file a modification?
  11. My niece/nephew/daughter/son lives with me. I would like to file for guardianship to enroll him/her in school.
  12. My sister has custody of my children (kinship legal guardianship). I feel that I can take care of my children now and I want to go back to court and regain custody. What should I do?
  13. My child was adopted three years ago. How can I get my child back?
  14. I would like to see a judge. My child is out of control (ran away, does not come home, breaks things in the house, is in a gang, etc.).
  15. How do I get my juvenile record expunged?
  16. I want to modify my support order from New York (for example, can I file my application in Essex County?
  17. My child is a minor and has a baby. How can I establish custody of my grandchild?
  18. I am paying child support for a child that is not mine. What should I do?
  19. How do I change my court date?
  20. I cannot make the court date, is it possible for me to have a telephonic hearing?
  21. How do I get credit for the child support money I paid directly to the custodial parent?
  22. How do I schedule a DNA test?
  23. What should I do if I missed my court date?
  24. I do not understand the instructions on this form. Where can I receive help?

1. How long will my divorce take?

If a case is a simple uncontested case, you can get a divorce in approximately 3 months. If it is contested (a case information statement and answer is filed), the time it may take will vary.

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2.Where can I make child support payments?

If you do not have a wage assignment (child support taken directly from your paycheck), or if your wage assignment has not yet taken effect, you can make child support payments at the Essex Family Court, Finance Division, Room 111, 1st Floor. The cashier accepts cash, personal checks, and money orders. Please remember to have your account number (CS Number) available. Payments can also be mailed to: New Jersey Family Support Payment Center, P.O. Box 4880, Trenton, NJ 08650-4880. Your payment coupon should be included with your payment. Additionally, payments can also be made online at www.expertpay.com.
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3. How can I obtain a certified copy of my court order?

A copy of a court order may be requested by mail or in person. A certified copy is $5 and a sealed copy is $10. In person requests can be made on the 1st floor, Room 113. An order form for written record requests is available on the judiciary website at http://www.njcourts.com

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4. The custodial parent and I are in agreement on most issues regarding child support, custody, and parenting time, do we still have to come to court?

If both parties are in agreement on such issues as amount of child support, custody and parenting time arrangements, the parties may contact the Non-Dissolution Office at 973-693-5560 or the Litigant Services Specialist at 973-693-5539 for information.

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5. My court notice states that my case is scheduled before a hearing officer. What is a hearing officer?

The Child Support Hearing Officer Program is set up to hear cases as an alternative to a hearing by a judge in accordance with NJ Court Rule 5:25-3. Hearing Officers are empowered to make recommendations for the establishment, modification, and enforcement of paternity, child support, combined spousal and child support, and medical coverage (health insurance). The Hearing Officer’s recommendations are reviewed by a judge who may uphold the hearing officer’s recommendation or make adjustments. Any person appearing before a hearing officer may request an appeal of their decision to a Family Division judge by stating to the Hearing Officer during the hearing they want to appeal the recommendation. The Hearing Officer Program is managed by the Family Practice Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

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6. Does my child support order automatically end when my child reaches 18?

In the State of New Jersey, child support does not automatically end once a child reaches the age of eighteen. To end a child support order, a parent must file a motion to emancipate their
child.

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7. How is child support calculated?

Child support payments are calculated according to the Child Support Guidelines established by statute to assist in the establishment and modification of fair and adequate child support awards. The basis of the guidelines is that (1) child support is a continuous duty of both parents, (2) children are entitled to share in the current income of both parents, and (3)children should not be the economic victims of divorce, out-of-wedlock birth, or custody disputes.

A completed child support guideline worksheet shall be filed with any order for child support. If a proposed child support award differs from the award calculated under the guidelines, the worksheet shall state the reason for the deviation and the amount of the award calculated under the child support guidelines. Reference NJ Court Rule 5:6A and Appendix IX. (Entry of this child support in the automated Child Support Enforcement system is required by Federal Guidelines effective July 1, 2004.)

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8. What are the different types of custody arrangements?

Legal Custody Awards parent(s), or guardian(s) the right to make legal decisions for the child(ren) regarding education, health care, religion, and his or her own general welfare.

Joint Legal Custody When both parents or guardians have equal right to make legal decisions for the child(ren) regarding education, health care, religion and general welfare. Decisions in an emergency are made by the parent with physical custody.

Physical Custody Defines and declares the child(ren)’s residency. The child(ren) live with one parent/guardian and the other has specific parenting time.

Joint Physical Custody When the child(ren) resides with each parent/guardian half of the time, lives with each parent at least 3 days per week.

Sole Custody When one parent or guardian has the total decision-making authority over the child.

Temporary Custody All custody awarded by the court in New Jersey is temporary and subject to review by the court due to a change in circumstance. It is essential that the issues related to the well being and needs of the child(ren) are discussed in order to successfully reach a binding agreement.

KLG Kinship Legal Guardianship (KLG): While the KLG arrangement is intended to be a permanent placement until the child reaches eighteen (18) years of age, it does not terminate the parental rights and obligations of the natural parents. Individuals who have provided care and support for a child (not their own) in their home for at least twelve (12) consecutive months and, who are eighteen (18) years of age or older, may petition for kinship legal guardianship status.

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9. I do not know where my child’s other parent lives. Can I still file for child support?

If you do not know the address of the person you are filing against, you may be able to use Parent Location Services. To apply for the location services, you must have the social security number and/or birth date of the person, complete an application for location services, and pay a $6.00 application fee at the Essex County Department of Social Services, Hall of Records, Room 107, 469 M. L. K.Blvd., Newark, NJ 07102, 973-733-3385 or 973-733-3387.

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10. Where do I file a modification?

If your docket number begins with the letters “FM”, you can file your motion for modification in Room 111 (1st Floor). To send the forms by mail, return the forms, along with the $30 filing fee, payable to Treasurer, State of New Jersey, to Superior Court of New Jersey, to Finance Division Rm. 111, Newark, NJ 07102. Please remember to contact the Dissolution Unit to obtain a motion date before submitting your forms.

If your docket number begins with the letters “FD”, you can file a motion for modification in Room 103 (1st Floor). Forms are available in this office or you may download some forms from the Judiciary’s website, www.njcourts.com. Completed forms can be returned in person to room 103 or by mail at: Superior Court of New Jersey, Non-Dissolution Unit-Intake B, 212 Washington Street, Rm. 103, Newark, NJ 07102. Some forms may need to be notarized.
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11. My niece/nephew/daughter/son lives with me. I would like to file for guardianship to enroll him/her in school.

For more information on this topic, please contact the Education Law Center (Link to www.edlawcenter.org), located at 60 Park Place, Suite 300, Newark, NJ 07102. Phone: (973) 624-1815.

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12. My sister has custody of my children (Kinship Legal Guardianship). I feel that I can take care of my children now and I want to go back to court and regain custody. What should I do?

If your circumstances have changed since the court granted custody of your children to your sister, you will need to complete a motion to vacate/and or amend, indicate how your circumstances have changed, and the matter will be scheduled for a hearing with the proper notice to all parties, including attorneys.

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13. My child was adopted three years ago. How can I get my child back?

If your child has been adopted, regrettably, you will not be allowed to contact your child. DCP&P maintains an adoption registry that allows your child to attempt to locate you once he/she has reached the age of 18. Additional information is available at www.state.nj.us/njfosteradopt/adoption/registry.

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14. I would like to see a judge. My child is out of control (ran away, does not come home, breaks things in the house, is in a gang, etc.).

The Family Crisis Intervention Unit (FCIU) handles cases in which the behavior of the juvenile, parent, guardian, or other family member constitutes a threat to the well being and safety of the juvenile for reasons other than delinquency. These cases often involve serious conflicts with parents, runaways, or a pattern of repeated unauthorized absence from school. If the matter cannot be resolved within the Family Crisis Intervention Unit a petition is made for court intervention and a complaint is filed with the Family Court. For information about the program, please call the Family Crisis Intervention Unit at 973-286-2966.
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15. How do I get my juvenile record expunged?

If you have a juvenile record that you would like to have expunged, you may obtain a pro se packet in the Criminal Division, located at 50 West Market Street, Newark NJ 07102, Room 1012.

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16. I want to modify my support order from New York (for example), can I file my application in Essex County?

An out of state child support order can only be modified in N.J. if N.J. assumes jurisdiction. N.J. may assume jurisdiction if neither party currently resides in the state the order originated from and if other requirements are met. For more information contact the UIFSA Team at (973) 693-5524/5557.

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17. My child is a minor and has a baby. How do I establish custody of my grandchild?

Forms for filing a complaint for custody can be obtained in the Non-Dissolution Unit, Room 103 (1st Floor).

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18. I am paying child support for a child that is not mine. What can I do?

If you are questioning a previous order of the court naming you as the father of a particular child who you are paying child support for, you may file what is called a motion to disestablish paternity. Forms are available in Room 103 or by downloading the forms from the Judiciary website, www.njcourts.com. Once your papers are properly filed, a court date will be set, and a judge will hear the case. A genetic test may also be ordered by the court.

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19. How do I change my court date?

Please call the phone number listed on your court notice for more information.

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20. I cannot make the court date, is it possible for me to have a telephonic hearing?

Please call the phone number listed on your notice for more information.

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21. How do I get credit for the child support money I paid directly to the custodial parent?

If your docket number begins with an “FM” and you are seeking to receive credit for child support payments made directly to the custodial parent, you can file a motion to receive credit with the Dissolution Unit. If your docket number begins with “FD” and you are seeking to receive credit for child support payments made directly to the custodial parent, you may complete a post disposition application requesting credit with the Non-Dissolution unit. In both instances, you must submit some proof of payment to the court. If a child support order has not been established, but a hearing date has been set, bring appropriate proof of payment(s) to the hearing. This may be in the form of a cancelled check, copy of a money order made out to the custodial parent, or a notarized statement from the custodial parent acknowledging receipt of the funds.

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22. How do I schedule a DNA test?

Parties may request genetic testing to determine paternity by filing a complaint for paternity with the court. A test may also be ordered by a judge if paternity is contested by one of the parties. The testing is confidential and scheduled by the courts at approved testing sites.

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23. What should I do if I missed my court date?

It is extremely important to notify the court if you cannot make the scheduled court date. Failure to appear at a court hearing may result in an adjournment or dismissal of the complaint/motion if you are the plaintiff, or a bench warrant or default court order if you are the defendant in a pending court matter.

If you cannot make your court date, you must contact the appropriate Family Division Unit. If you are unsure of the unit that is handling your case, you may call 973-693-6667.

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24. I do not understand the instructions on this form. Where can I receive help?

If you are having trouble understanding instructions on family court forms, the services of the Family Division’s Litigant Services Specialist are available to you. The Litigant Services Specialist is located in Room 109 (1st floor) and provides assistance to litigants in need of further explanation of court processes or completion of court documents. Please remember that the Litigant Services Specialist is an employee of the court and cannot provide legal advice.

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