It can be particularly important for single, separated or divorced parents in New Jersey to understand the child support system. When parents first enter the system and begin dealing with child support, they may find it confusing or even overwhelming. Each August marks Child Support Awareness Month, an initiative designed to draw attention to the financial support provided by noncustodial parents.
A child support determination is made after the parent-child relationship is officially established. Maternity can be proven through the records of childbirth while paternity can be demonstrated in a number of ways. If the child was born during the parents' marriage, the husband is assumed to be the father. When the parents are unmarried, an acknowledgment of paternity form can be signed by the father at the child's birth or any later time. In some cases, paternity may be in doubt or dispute. In these situations, parents may request DNA testing to conclusively prove the child's parentage. After a DNA test, an official order of paternity may be issued.
The noncustodial parents pay child support to the people who have custody of their children. This is usually the custodial parent but may be the child's legal guardian or custodian in some cases. While parents can establish child support during a divorce, it can also be determined on its own between unmarried individuals. Child support orders are based on income, family size and other objective factors. Income includes not only a person's salary but also other forms of benefits and compensation.
When the noncustodial parent refuses to live up to his or her obligation to provide support for his or her child, the custodial parent can take action to enforce the order. A family law attorney can help a person seek justice in court if the other parent fails to pay his or her required child support payments.