Child Support, Child Custody, and Parenting Time

Non-Dissolution – This docket type involves parenting and support issues in cases where no divorce is filed.

  • Child custody
  • Parenting time and visitation, including grandparents and siblings
  • Establishing paternity
  • Child Support
  • Spousal Support
  • Health insurance coverage

Who Can File?

  • A parent who is not married.
  • A parent who is married but has not filed for divorce, who wants to establish paternity, custody, parenting time, visitation, child support, or health insurance coverage.
  • A parent who is married and who wants spousal or health insurance coverage.
  • A grandparent or adult sibling who wants to file for custody, visitation, child support or health insurance coverage.
  • Anyone filing a counterclaim or a response to a complaint filed against them.

NOTE: If you are divorced or are seeking a divorce from the other parent, use the self-help resources listed under Divorce.

What does "establish paternity" mean? If the couple is married, both parties are the legal parents of their child(ren). For unmarried couples, the legal father must be named in the court papers. This will ensure that both parents are legally responsible for supporting the child(ren). Paternity must be established in order to request child support from the legal father.

Do I need a lawyer to file a non-dissolution case?

Filing a Non-Dissolution Case

8 Steps for Filing a Non-Dissolution case in Superior Court

  1. Fill out the following form. You are the "Plaintiff."
  2. Include the current address of the other party. This is very important. The other party will receive a Notice to Appear in court and a copy of your court papers. If the other party cannot be reached, your case might be dismissed or delayed.

  3. What to do if you cannot find the other party:
    • If you are asking for child support, your county welfare office can help you locate the other parent. They receive federal funding to perform this service for child support recipients.
    • If you are not asking for child support, you can complete the Diligent Search Kit (CN 11490) to show that you tried to find the other party.
    • Your case cannot proceed until the other party is found.
  4. Fill out the Confidential Litigant Information Sheet (CN10486)
  5. Complete other forms as needed.

    For child support, establishment of paternity, spousal support, and/or health insurance coverage, fill out these forms:
    For custody, parenting time or visitation, also complete the
  6. Double check the forms. Do not leave any blank spaces. Write N/A if something does not apply to you. Make sure you sign them where it is required.
  7. Make a copy of the forms and keep them in a safe place.
  8. There are 3 ways to deliver the forms.
    • Option 1: You can upload your forms here. If you are asking for child support, include the child support application form. You can pay the $6 fee with a credit card.
    • Option 2: You can deliver your forms to the county courthouse. If you are asking for child support, bring the child support application form and a $6 check or a money order payable to Treasurer, State of NJ.
    • Option 3: You can mail your forms to the county courthouse. If you are asking for child support, include the child support application and a $6 check or money order payable to Treasurer, State of NJ.

Emergent Hearings

Order to Show Cause

If an issue is raised that will cause immediate and irreparable harm, if not addressed right away, either party, can complete the Emergent Hearing application. Examples of these types of issues are listed in the Emergent Hearing (Order to Show Cause).

If this is your first filing of an FD case, and you are requesting an emergent hearing, complete these forms:

If you already have an FD docket # involving the same people, and you are requesting an emergent hearing, complete these forms:

  • Option 1: You can upload your forms here. If you are filing for the first time, there is no fee. If you are asking to modify your case, there is a $25 fee that you can pay with a credit card. OR
  • Option 2: You can deliver your forms to the county courthouse. If you are filing for the first time, there is no fee. If you are asking to modify your case, there is a $25 fee that you can pay with a $25 check or money order made out to Treasurer, State of NJ. If you are asking for child support, bring a separate $6 check or a money order payable to Treasurer, State of NJ. OR
  • Option 3: You can mail your forms to the county courthouse. If you are asking to modify your case, there is a $25 fee that you can pay with a $25 check or money order made out to Treasurer, State of NJ. If you are asking for child support, include a separate $6 check or money order payable to Treasurer, State of NJ.

Responding to a Complaint

Responding to a Non-Dissolution Complaint Filed Against You

If you received a complaint, you have a choice:
  1. You have the right to file a response. You can also file a counterclaim asking the court to make other changes besides those that were requested.
  2. You are not required to respond. The court case will proceed anyway.
To file a response to a non-dissolution complaint, follow the steps listed under "File a Case."" You are the "Defendant." If you are asking for child support, establishment of paternity, spousal support, or health insurance coverage, complete these forms too: For custody, parenting time or visitation, also complete the

Change a Court Order

Ask to Change a Non-Dissolution Court Order:

To change a parenting time, custody, or visitation order you, follow these steps:
  1. Fill out the Application for Modification of Court Order or Cross-Application for Modification of a Court Order (CN 11487). You are the "Plaintiff."
  2. Include the current address of the other party. This is very important. The other party will receive a Notice to Appear in court and a copy of your court papers. If the other party cannot be reached, your case might be dismissed or delayed.
  3. What to do if you cannot find the other party:
    • If you are asking for child support, your county welfare office can help you locate the other parent. They receive federal funding to perform this service for child support recipients.
    • If you are not asking for child support, you can complete the Diligent Search Kit (CN 11490) to show that you tried to find the other party.
    • Your case cannot proceed until the other party is found.
  4. Fill out the Confidential Litigant Information Sheet (CN10486)
  5. If you are asking for child support or a change to your child support order, fill out the Summary Form for Financial Information (CN 11223)
  6. If you are married and are asking for spousal support or a change to your child support order, fill out the Family Case Information Statement (CN 10482)
  7. Double check the forms. Do not leave any blank spaces. Write N/A if something does not apply to you. Make sure you sign them where it is required.
  8. Make a copy of the forms and keep them in a safe place.
  9. There are 3 ways to deliver the forms.

Filing Fees/Fee Waivers

Filing Fees and Fee Waivers

To file an FD case with CN 11492:
No fee
To request a modification with CN 11487:
$25
To file for child support enforcement:
$6
*Note: the request for child support enforcement must be a separate check or money order, unless you are filing online. All checks must be made payable to Treasurer, State of NJ
Notice of appearance (if you have an attorney)
$50
Substitution of attorney (if you get a new attorney)
$35
Motion for reconsideration of the judge’s decision
$50
Do you qualify for a fee waiver ?
  • You might not have to pay to file your case if your income and assets are low enough. Fill out the Fee Waiver form and give it to the court along with the required documents.
  • You can apply for a fee waiver in any NJ state court: Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Superior Court and Tax Court.
  • Request a fee waiver
When to file an application for a fee waiver
  • File your fee waiver request when you file your court case.
  • Under Court Rule 1:5-6, the court clerk cannot file your case unless the required fee is included.

Custody/Visitation

Child Custody, Parenting Time, and Visitation

For child custody, the rights of both parents are considered. Minor children must have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated. Parents are encouraged to share the rights and responsibilities of caring for their child(ren).

Custody

  • Joint Legal Custody
    • Fosters co-parenting and shared access to information.
  • Sole Legal Custody
    • All major decisions are made by one parent.
  • Primary Residential Custody
    • The child lives with one parent at least 51% of the time.
  • Shared Residential Custody
    • The child resides with each parent equally.

Parenting Time

Parenting Time is the time that a non-custodial parent spends with a child when the other parent has sole legal custody. Supervised parenting time means that the visits are overseen by a third person. The court can appoint a member of the family or another person to supervise.

Visitation

A grandparent or any sibling of a child living in New Jersey can file in court to request visitation. The filer must prove that visitation is in the best interest of the child.

Consent Conference

Not all issues require a hearing. Consent conferences can help the parties reach agreement on custody, visitation, paternity, or child support. This process gives the parent or caregiver the chance to help write the court order for the judge to sign.

Screening

All non-dissolution cases are screened to see if they are a good fit for a consent conference. A trained court professional will help the parties discuss the issues and try to reach agreement.

Working It Out

The goal of the consent conference is to reach an agreement on the issues filed in court. Each issue in the court case is discussed. If an agreement is reached on some or all of the issues, the court staff writes up an order. The order lists issues where the parties agree. If they still disagree on some things, the order will say that.

Judge Review

Both parties will sign the consent order. Then the judge will review and sign it. Once the judge signs the court order it becomes a binding agreement and enforceable. Copies of the signed court order are distributed to all parties.

What Comes Next

The issues not resolved in the consent conference can go through further mediation. They also could be handled at a court hearing. The judge also could decide to dismiss them.

Child Support

It is the responsibility of both parents to provide support and care for their child(ren).

You can ask the courts to collect child support on your behalf. There are three ways to apply:
  1. Download, print, and complete the child support application.
  2. Get a copy of the application from your county board of social services.
  3. Request an application by calling 1-877-NJ KIDS 1 (1-877-655-4371)

Upload your completed application here, or mail it to your local county court.

There is a $6 fee to apply for full child support services.

You can also request partial child support services, such as:
  • Help Finding the Other Parent - If you do not have an address for the person that you are filing against, you can ask for location services from your county welfare agency.
  • Establishing Paternity - You can ask the court to establish paternity. The court might order a blood or genetic test. You might have to pay for the testing if it shows that person is not the father.
  • Health Insurance Coverage - You can ask the court to order the other parent to provide health insurance coverage for your child(ren).
  • Enforcement of Child Support Orders – This could include collection of payments, using income withholding to ensure payment, and court action to make sure the court order is enforced. This service costs $25 per year. It does not include locating the other parent, the cost of establishing paternity, or enforcing child support by collecting their tax refund.

Additional Child Support Resources:

How to pay child support during COVID 19

Glossary

Arrears - Arrears are unpaid or overdue child support, alimony, or spousal support payments.

Application- An application is a written request asking the court to issue an order or to change an order that has already been issued.

Bench Warrant- A bench warrant is a court order that says law enforcement can arrest a person for failure to appear for a court hearing or failure to comply with a court order.

Certification- A certification is a written statement that swears all the information you gave the court in writing is true.

Child Support Number (also called a “CS Number”) - A child support number is the number assigned to your child, spousal, or alimony support case. Any time you call the court about your child support case, you will be asked for your child support number.

Complaint- A complaint is a formal document filed in court that starts a case. It names the parties and the issues you are asking the court to decide.

Consent Conference- A consent conference is a meeting where parents in court for custody, visitation, paternity, or child support can try to resolve their issues before the judge decides the case for them.

Custodial Parent - The custodia parent is the parent whose home the child(ren) live in most of the time. This parent has most of the day-to-day responsibility.

Counterclaim - A defendant can file a counterclaim that says why they disagree with a complaint filed against them in with the court. It could also tell the court what relief the defendant is asking for now that the case has been filed.  

Court Order - A court order is the written decision issued by the court. For example, a child support court order sets forth how often, how much, and what kind of support is to be paid.

Custody - Custody gives a parent the right to make decisions for the child. Sole custody means one person and joint custody means both parents share this responsibility.

Diligent Search - A diligent search means making a serious effort to find the other party named in your case. This means that you have followed up on any information you have received about where they are and you cannot find any more information.

Docket Number The docket number is the number assigned to each case filed in the court.

Exhibits - Exhibits are documents or objects you provide to the court to support what you want the court to decide.

FD - “FD” on a court case means it is a non-dissolution case. This type of case involves parents who are not married or other adults filing for court relief on behalf of minor children. FD cases can also include married people who are separated, but one parent wants custody or financial support.

File - A case is filed when the court is given the correct forms to start a court case.

Income Withholding/Wage Garnishment - Income withholding and wage garnishment both mean that automatic deductions are made from wages or other income, to pay child support. Income withholding has been mandatory since the enactment of the Family Support Act of 1988.

New Jersey Child Support Guidelines Both parents are responsible for the financial and emotional support of their children. New Jersey has developed a standard method for calculating child support based on the income of both parents and other factors. The full set of NJ Child Support Guidelines is contained in Rule 5:6A of the New Jersey Court Rules.

NJKiDS (New Jersey Kids Deserve Support) NJKiDS is the New Jersey Child Support automated computer system that tracks child support accounts.

Non-Custodial Parent The non-custodial parent is the parent with whom the child(ren) do not live with most of the time.

Obligor/Payor An obligor, also called a payor, is the person ordered by the court to pay support. This person is also known as the non-custodial parent (NCP).

Obligee/Payee An obligee, also called a payee, is the person, agency, or institution who receives support, also known as the custodial parent (CP).

Party - A party is a person, business, or governmental agency involved in a court action.

Petitioner Petitioner is another name for the person starting the court case by filing the papers that the court will consider.

Respondent- A respondent, also called a defendant, is the person who is named as the other party in the court action filed by the petitioner. This person can respond to the complaint by filing a cross application or written response with the court.

Relief - To ask for relief is to ask the court to order something. This could include custody, parenting time, or support.

Support Obligation - The support obligation is the amount of support that the court orders the obligor to pay. The court order includes how much and how often support must be paid, such as weekly or monthly.

Child Support Enforcement The Child Support Enforcement Unit makes sure that court orders are carried out. This could include court orders for the payment of child support, health care coverage, or spousal support. If support is not being paid on time, the Child Support Enforcement has many state and federal tools available to enforce child support orders. These can include

  • Income withholding
  • Court hearing
  • Bench warrant
  • Tax offset - federal and state
  • Liens attached to property and assets
  • Credit bureau notification
  • Seizure of bank accounts
  • Seizure of proceeds from lawsuits
  • Passport denial
  • License suspension
  • Lottery interception