"Your Needs Are Our Concern"
- Child Support & Paternity Program
- Fair Hearings
- Legal Advice
- SSI Project
- Internal Revenue Service Disputes
CHILD SUPPORT & PATERNITY (CSP)
The CSP program is a joint effort of federal, state and local agencies. In New Jersey, the child support program is supervised by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Family Development, Office of Child Support and Paternity programs and is administered by individual counties. In Monmouth County, the Division of Social Services, the Family Court, and the Probation Department jointly conduct the Child Support program. The State Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) supervises the Family Court and the Probation Department.
Monmouth County Division of Social Services (DDS) locates non-custodial parents, establishes paternity, obtains support orders and reviews orders for support modification for children receiving public assistance and for children placed in foster care through the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). DSS also provides limited CSP program services to families not receiving public assistance.
The Family Court schedules, conducts, records and keeps track of court hearings in a child support case, including issues of custody and visitation.
The Probation Department monitors money due and paid for child support through implementation of wage garnishments, withholding of passports, tax offsets and other enforcement methods.
THE FOUR MAJOR COMPONENTS OF THE CSP PROGRAM
Locating Noncustodial Parents
The first of these components is the responsibility to locate the non-custodial parent. The program has an impressive array of resources to locate a parent or a parent’s source of income or assets. Child Support staff have access to state motor vehicle and law enforcement databases, federal, state and local tax and revenue records, records concerning real and titled personal property, records maintained by public utilities and cable television companies and other databases.
The establishment of paternity is the second major component of the program. Enhancements in the sophistication of genetic testing, for example, allow for the issue of paternity in the hospital at the time of birth. In New Jersey, paternity can be established through a voluntary process call “Paternity Opportunity Program” (POP) or through judicial proceedings.
Establishing Child Support Orders
The establishment of child support orders is the third major component of the Child Support program. All states are required to use uniform, statewide child support guidelines to determine child support obligations. Guidelines for New Jersey may be found at the State of New Jersey Judiciary website http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us. Most child support orders result from a judicial proceeding before a judge. However, states are increasingly turning to “expedited procedures” to establish child support orders. Expedited procedures may be purely administrative (non-judicial) or a mix of administrative and judicial procedures.
Collecting and Distributing Support
The fourth major component of the program is the collection and distribution of child support. In 1988, to ensure payment of the child support obligation, Congress mandated that wage withholding orders be entered immediately upon the entry of a child support order.
THE NEW JERSEY COURT SYSTEM
Child Support cases involving support and paternity are considered to be “Family Cases”. Family Cases are civil cases in which the dispute involves children, spouses or domestic partners. The issue may involve divorce, custody, visitation, termination of parental rights, adoption, juvenile delinquency, child abuse and domestic violence. The Family Division is responsible for management of Family Cases through the court system.
Child Support orders are enforced through the Probation Department. Probation does not represent either party but is responsible for enforcing a judge’s order. Once an order is entered, the case is set up on the computer system and tracked for payment.
CHILD SUPPORT AND WORK FIRST NEW JERSEY (WFNJ)
Both parents need to take responsibility for their children. Unless exempted for good cause, recipients of WFNJ must cooperate with the child support agency by providing identifying information about the parent(s) of children in order to secure child support.
New Jersey matches information from public assistance applications with other electronic databases to ensure that information provided is accurate. Penalties for knowingly providing false or inaccurate information include ineligibility for future benefits, payment of restitution and/or criminal charges. To report suspected fraud, call MCDSS investigations at 732-431-6352.
MCDSS is required to seek reimbursement on most overpayments of public benefits, regardless of fault. Failure to repay could result in a civil judgment or seizure of tax refunds, homestead rebates or lottery winnings. Overpayments could also result in ineligibility for future benefits or referral to the county prosecutor.
Applicants or recipient of public benefits, who disagree with the decision on their case, may request a Fair Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge from the NJ Office of Administrative Law. An attorney may represent a party or a party may present the case him/herself. Additionally, in some cases a non-lawyer may assist a party at the hearing. If a household requests a fair hearing within required time limits, benefits may be continued. However, if the CWA action is upheld by the hearing decision, a claim against the household shall be established for all over-issuances.
The ALJ will allow each party to present witnesses and other evidence. The ALJ will also permit each party to question the other party’s witnesses. The ALJ prepares an initial decision for comments and then a final decision.. Any party may appeal a final decision to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.
Further information may be found at the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law web site http://www.state.nj.us/oal or call the New Jersey State Hotline at 1-800-792-9773.
Requests for Fair Hearings that relate to MCDSS may be directed to the Fair Hearing Liaison, Unit 115, P.O. Box 3000 Freehold, NJ 07728 or call 1-800-662-3114, ext. 6154.
MCDSS does not provide legal advice. Assistance is available through private attorneys. Names of private attorneys may be obtained through the Monmouth County Bar Association at 732-431-5544.
If you are unable to afford an attorney, help with legal matters may be obtained through Ocean-Monmouth Legal Services at http://www.lsnj.org/sjls or call 1-800-496-4570 or call Legal Aid Society at 732-869-5619 for civil matters (non-criminal). For legal advice with regard to criminal matters, contact the Office of the Public Defender at 732-308-4320.
Legal Services of New Jersey's SSI Project is funded primarily with TANF dollars through the Department of Human Services, Division of Family Development. The SSI Project provides Work First New Jersey (WFNJ) and General Assistance (GA) recipients with legal representation and assistance in the application and appeals process for both SSI and SSDI. County and municipal agencies refer recipients to the Project who have been determined to have physical or mental disabilities and have been exempted from work requirements. Legal Services also maintains a toll-free hotline for individuals who have not been referred to the Project, although these individuals must be receiving some type of public assistance in order to be represented. Legal Services has offices in every county and the SSI Project has helped many WFNJ and GA recipients move to the SSI system. For more information, contact David Pantos, Legal Services New Jersey at 888/576-5529.
ASSISTANCE WITH INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE DISPUTES
If you do not already have a, law -students at the Rutgers School of Law - Newark are authorized to represent you, WITHOUT CHARGE, in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The students, under the direct supervision of the clinic's co-director, can assist you in the following areas:
- An IRS audit of your tax return.
- A conference with an IRS Appeals Officer or District Counsel.
- A trial before the United States Tax Court.
Our goal is to assist low income taxpayers who would otherwise not be able to obtain legal representation. For further information, please contact the free tax clinic at 973-353-1685.
Rutgers School of Law - Newark
Federal Tax Clinic
123 Washington Street
Newark, New Jersey 07102
This free tax clinic is not a branch of the Internal Revenue Service. Your conversation will be confidential.