When parents who live in New Jersey divorce or have not married, the state’s Child Support Enforcement Agency may order one parent to pay child support. The law requires both parents to financially provide for the child until he or she is an adult.

Either parent can request a legal child support order from the CSEA.

How do I apply for child support?

You can visit your local CSEA office, or you can apply for services through the state website. You can request that the agency locate the noncustodial parent, help you establish legal paternity through an affidavit or DNA test, create a legal child support order and/or enforce the order when the other parent fails to pay.

Do I have to go to court?

The court will hold a hearing and allow both parents to attend. You may go in front of a judge, or you may present the details of your case to an agent. Either way, the court will enter a legally binding child support decision.

What factors determine the child support amount?

New Jersey guidelines begin with the average cost per month per child spent in your county. The judge may adjust this amount based on parental income and the number of overnights the child spends with each parent each month.

When will I begin paying or receiving child support?

Most people receive a legal child support order within three months of the initial request. When the court cannot find the other parent, if he or she lives out of state or if you need to establish paternity, the process takes longer.

How does the state collect and distribute payments?

The parent who must pay child support makes payments directly to the state through check or money order or salary withholding. The agency receives the payment and remits it to the custodial parent within two business days.

When a parent fails to pay child support as required, the state can garnish his or her wages, make a negative credit report and take other punitive action. Either parent can request a change in support if financial circumstances change.