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Non-Dissolution Unit

Wilentz Justice Complex
212 Washington Street, Room 103 (1st Floor)
Newark, NJ 07102
Main Phone: (973) 693-6693
Main Fax: 973-693-6683
Hours of Operation: M-F 8:00 - 4:30

Introduction

The Non-Dissolution unit handles matters relating to Custody, parenting time, paternity, child support, 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 a Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) matter must have a letter of referral from the DCP&P unit, before filing for custody. This letter can be obtained from the DCP&P 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 located in Room 111, 1st Floor, Wilentz Justice Complex, 212 Washington Street, Newark, NJ.

When there is an active Domestic Violence restraining order, the plaintiff will be referred to Room 1251 on the 12th floor. The defendant listed on the restraining order will be referred to Room 1207 on the 12th floor.

The Filing Process

Parties will be interviewed to determine the type of case and relief (paternity, support, custody, or shared parenting time) that is being requested.

All individuals filing should have:

  • Photo identification. Acceptable forms of photo identification include Driver’s License, County Issued ID, Passport, or Employment ID.
  • Proof of relationship and identification for the child(ren) such as birth certificate, baptismal record, school records, or certificate of parentage. If available, Social Security cards should also be provided.
  • Complete name and address of the party you are filing against. You will be asked to provide as much information as you can about the other party, a description and provide social security numbers if possible. If you do not know the party's address but have a social security number and/or birth date, it may be possible to use Parent Locate Services . If no information is available a diligent search certification is required.
  • You will also be asked for the other party's employment status and employer's name and address. This information is extremely helpful especially when filing for child support.

Individuals filing a new child support case must complete an application. If child support services are also being requested a Title IV-D application must be completed and a $6.00 processing fee paid. The Title IV-D application only needs to be completed and the $6.00 fee paid only when someone is requesting Title IV-D services. The fee can be paid at the Finance Office, First Floor, Room 111, Wilentz Justice Complex, 212 Washington Street, Newark, NJ.

Individuals filing a new complaint will receive a notice with the date of their court hearing and the date that they are to attend the parent education seminar at the time they file their complaint. The notice for the party that the individual is filing against will be sent by certified and regular mail.

Parties who have previously established a court order may file an application to change (modify) the order.

All parties filing new complaints will be scheduled for the Parent Education Program on the same morning of their court date. It is in the best interest of all parties to attend the program. After attending the program, parties may be able to settle their case through Mediation.

Applications

Non-Dissolution Applications can be filed:

  • In person at Intake A (1st floor, Room 103)
  • By mail – Intake (Paper) to:

Superior Court of New Jersey
Family Division - Non-Dissolution Unit
Mail-In Team  – Room 1365
212 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07102

When filing by mail, some forms may need to be notarized.

Important Information Regarding Custody

Generally, the child for whom custody is sought must have resided in New Jersey for at least (6) months and must currently live in Essex County.

If someone other than the natural parent of the child(ren) is filing for custody, the court must notify the parents about the request for custody.

Natural parents must provide proof of relationship to the child. A birth certificate, baptismal record, school records, or proof of parentage are acceptable forms of proof.

If the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) has an active case regarding the child(ren), a complaint for custody will only be accepted with a letter from DCP&P recommending custody or stating that the case is closed.

A Child Custody Investigation known as a “Best Interest Report” may be ordered by the
court to help the judge make the custody determination and/or parenting time arrangements that ensures that the best interest of the child(ren) are met. The investigation is conducted by a Family Division Probation Officer.

When a Custody Order is issued, the child(ren) cannot be moved out of the state without the court’s permission. Interference with custody or parenting time can result in being sanctioned by the court for contempt or violation of a court order.

Interstate Filings (UIFSA)

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act involves the collection and enforcement of child support when one party resides in another state or country. UIFSA includes the Establishment and or Modification of a child support order. An applicant must call the Family Court to schedule an appointment for their initial interview. The Plaintiff is not always required to appear at the hearing once the case is scheduled for court. There is a $6.00 application filing fee, and a 3‑6 month wait before the initial hearing date is scheduled by the Foreign State.

This unit only interviews parties who are not receiving public assistance. If an individual is receiving public assistance, TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), their complaint must be filed by the Essex County Division of Welfare, Hall of Records, Room 102, 465 Martin Luther King Blvd., Newark, NJ.

The UIFSA unit also handles international Child Support applications for Australia, Canada, Jamaica, Germany, France, Mexico, Bermuda, Poland, and many other countries. You may call the Family Court to inquire about child support for other countries.

Other states’ Child Support Enforcement websites: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/extinf.html

Litigant Services Specialist

A Litigant Services Specialist is available to answer questions about court forms, services and programs. This individual is located in the Non-Dissolution Unit, 1st floor, Room 109, 212 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102. You can also contact the Litigant Services Specialist at (973) 693-5539.

Terms and Definitions

Out of State Child Support Complaint: If an individual resides within the state of New Jersey and the party that they are filing child support against lives in another state or country, the application for support can be filed in the Non-Dissolution Office. Out of State child support complaints are filed with the UIFSA Unit according to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.

Modification of Existing Order: Changes to an existing order can be requested by filing an application for modification or a motion to have the case reopened. The case will return either to the original judge who initially heard the case or to a hearing or probation officer depending upon the complexity of the requested change.

Mediation : Parties can be referred to the Family Division Mediation Program when there is no clear agreement between the individuals regarding a resolution of a case. The case will be scheduled for a mediation session before an impartial mediator who will help the parties reach an agreement. If an agreement is reached during the session, the mediator will prepare an order which is signed by a judge. After the judge signs the order, a copy will be given to the individuals in the case. If the individuals cannot come to an agreement, the case will be referred to a judge for resolution.

Hearing Officer Program: 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 filing an Application for Appeal with the Non Dissolution Office. The Hearing Officer Program is managed by the Family Practice Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Emancipation : Emancipation of a child occurs when a child does not depend on his or her parents anymore. An emancipated child is independent, and is neither cared for nor influenced by a parent. Therefore, the parents of an emancipated child do not have an obligation to support the child. In New Jersey there is no law defining emancipation, and there is no specific age at which a child is automatically emancipated. Support may terminate automatically if the child support order specifies a date, age, or circumstance when support stops.

Emergent Matters: An emergent matter involves a serious threat to the life, well being, or safety of the child(ren) and an immediate decision is required by a judge. For example, when a child needs an emergent medical procedure, these matters are usually brought before the court through an Order to Show Cause by the client or by an attorney and can be heard by a judge on the same day.

Applications: An application is a request of the court, by the client or the client’s attorney, to grant relief such as child support, custody, or parenting time, or to change or enforce an existing order..

Child Support Guidelines: 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.)

CS Number: After a complaint for child support is filed, the case is entered in NJKiDS, the child support enforcement system and given a case number which begins with “CS.” This number should be given to the Child Support Probation Office when inquiring about the status of any child support payments.

Parent Location Services : 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.

Supervised Visitation: A program that allows a non-custodial parent to visit with a child or children in a safe and neutral setting without interference from the custodial parent or guardian.

Types of Custody:

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 - 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: the child 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.

Paternity/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.

Enforcement of Orders: Parties may return to court to enforce an order that is not being honored or paid in a timely manner. Enforcement of Custody and/or Parenting Time Orders are handled by the Non-Dissolution Office. Enforcement of Child Support Orders are handled by the Child Support Enforcement. This office is located at 212 Washington Street, Room 1109, Newark NJ. The phone number is 1-877-NJKiDS1 (1-877-655-4371).

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