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Guide to Court Enforcement: Answers to Common Questions About Child Support Enforcement Hearings

  1. I received a notice about my child support case from Probation. Is this a conference, a meeting or what?
  2. Can I request more child support?
  3. I get a welfare check every month. Why is a hearing necessary?
  4. I would like to attend the hearing. Is there anything I need to bring?
  5. Do I need a lawyer?
  6. What happens if the person who owes child support (the obligor) doesn't show up for the hearing?
  7. Can child support be taken out of the obligor's pay check?
  8. Can I still get child support even if the obligor isn't working?
  9. Before the court date, support was paid in full. Will a hearing still be held?
  10. My child is over eighteen years old. Am I still entitled to child support?
  11. The obligor was ordered to provide health insurance for my child but hasn't done done so. What can be done?
  12. I received child support directly from the obligor, but Probation still says that money is owed. What's the problem?
  13. Is there a way I can check what payments Probation has received?
  14. I don't speak English. Should I bring someone to translate?

I received a notice about my child support case from Probation. Is this a conference, a meeting or what?

The notice is to let you know that Probation has scheduled a hearing to enforce your court order of support. This enforcement hearing could be about support payments, health care insurance coverage and/or related issues. The obligor (person ordered to pay child support, alimony, daycare, or to provide health care insurance) must be present at the hearing. Your attendance is up to you unless your court papers say that you must attend.

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Can I request more child support?

The support amount cannot be increased or decreased if the hearing is for enforcement only. If you feel that the obligor should pay more current support than already ordered you can file motion asking for an increase. Such motions must be filed in the county where the support order was originally set (the county of venue). This may be a different county than the one that supervises your case or schedules your enforcement hearings. You may also write to the Division of Family Development, PO Box 716, Trenton, NJ to request a review of your case if the support amount has not changed over the last three years.

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I get a welfare check every month. Why is a hearing necessary?

Even if you receive welfare benefits for your child, the person who is ordered to pay child support must still pay it. The money collected by Probation is sent to the county welfare agency to reimburse your monthly grant. The establishment of a regular payment pattern will ensure that you receive a monthly disregard (the first $50 of support collected in a month) in addition to your welfare grant. A hearing may be necessary if the obligor is not paying support as ordered or has not provided health care insurance for your children to be used in place of Medicaid.

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I would like to attend the hearing. Is there anything I need to bring?

Bring with you the notice that you received about the hearing. The obligor's social security number and date of birth may be needed by Probation. If you have an address for the obligor, bring it to court in case what you have is different from Probation's records. Information about the obligor's employer may be helpful to your case. Court orders making changes such as reducing and increasing child support payments should also be brought.

Any information about the obligor's assets such as property, boats, and bank accounts may help in collecting money owed to you. Information about lawsuits, perhaps resulting from an accident, may also be important if it involves the obligor.

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Do I need a lawyer?

Normally, only a lawyer can file motions on behalf of someone. However, in cases where payments are ordered to be made through Probation, the Probation Division is allowed to bring to court motions to enforce. A Probation Officer will be present at the hearing with records regarding your case.

Should you decide that you want legal representation, you will need to hire a private attorney. You may wish to call your local Legal Services office to find out if you qualify for free or reduced cost legal services. Check your telephone directory for the Legal Services Office in your area. You may also want to ask family or friends to recommend a lawyer to you.

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What happens if the person who owes child support (the obligor) doesn't show up for the hearing?

If the court is satisfied that there is proof that the obligor received notice of the hearing, a bench warrant may be issued for the obligor's arrest. A photograph or detailed physical description of the obligor will help the Sheriff's Department make the arrest. In addition, a default order granting your request for enforcement can be entered by the court.

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Can child support be taken out of the obligor's pay check?

Yes. As of 1990, State law requires that child support be paid through income withholding of any new or modified child support order. However, the obligor is always responsible for making sure the money gets paid even when payments are not withheld. If the income withholding payments don't cover the full amount of the order, the obligor is responsible for sending the difference to Probation.

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Can I still get child support even if the obligor isn't working?

Yes. Unemployment is considered a temporary change and the obligor is still required to make payments. New Jersey considers unemployment income to be available for supporting children. If the obligor is receiving unemployment benefits, an order to withhold child support will be sent to the Department of Labor and Industry (Unemployment).

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Before the court date, support was paid in full. Will a hearing still be held?

Yes, there will be a hearing unless it is canceled in advance. Generally, despite the pre-court payment, there may still be issues which need to be addressed such as making sure that regular payments are made in the future and health care insurance is provided.

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My child is over eighteen years old. Am I still entitled to child support?

In New Jersey, the child support order continues in effect until the court determines that the child is emancipated. However, there may be a provision in your order which clearly states when support is to stop. If not, it is up to either you or the obligor to file a motion with the court to have support terminated.

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The obligor was ordered to provide health insurance for my child but hasn't done done so. What can be done?

You need to contact the Probation Division that handles your case and ask to schedule a hearing to enforce the court order dealing with health care coverage. If health insurance coverage is not part of your current order, you can obtain motion forms from Probation. A hearing can then be scheduled to determine if the obligor should provide health insurance coverage. However, you will need to sign papers for this request and you must be present at the court hearing.

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I received child support directly from the obligor, but Probation still says that money is owed. What's the problem?

The problem is that the order requires payments to be made through Probation. Probation has no way of knowing about payments made outside that system and can't give the obligor credit without a court order. If the money is not owed to a welfare agency, you and the obligor may agree that the payments were for child support but Probation will still need a court order. Purchase of goods such as clothing or disposable diapers don't count as child support. If you and the obligor don't agree, the obligor may file a motion through the court asking for direct payment credit. You will have a chance to respond tot he obligor's motion. If you continue to accept direct payments Probation may ask the court to make your case "pay direct" and your account will be closed.

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Is there a way I can check what payments Probation has received?

You can request a computer printout from Probation of your account history to review before the hearing. You may also call the Child Support Hotline at 1-800-621-5437 for payment or account balance information.

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I don't speak English. Should I bring someone to translate?

It is necessary to have a certified court interpreter do the translation at your hearing. You should contact Probation before your hearing to let them know you will need a court interpreter. This will allow them to make arrangements in advance, instead of asking you to come back on another day. Most probation offices have someone who speaks Spanish. You can call yourself, or have a bilingual friend or family member call for you.

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