Child-Support Payments in New Jersey – Direct Pay or Probation?

Direct Pay or Probation? What’s Best for You?

Child support is one of the most important issues to be decided in a divorce or legal separation. Once the calculations have been made, the custodial parent has to decide whether to have the payments go through the Probation Department or to receive them directly from the child’s other parent. Your first reaction might be to assume that direct payment is best. In most cases, however, it is in the recipient’s best interest to receive payments through probation.

The purpose of the Probation Department is to protect the child by doing all it can to ensure that the custodial parent receives the funds necessary to care for that child. That’s why the NJ family court judge will automatically order that payments be made through the Probation Department. It is up to the recipient to request direct payments.

Benefits of Probation

There are some important benefits of probation, especially if you cannot depend upon the payer to make the payments in a timely manner.


  • Money will be garnished from the payer’s wages and deposited directly into

your bank account.

  • Payments will be made at a regular time each month.
  • You will have access to a verifiable record of the payments.
  • You will be able to check the payments online.
  • The Probation Department conducts automatic cost-of-living adjustments

every two years.

  • The cost-of-living adjustment may result in an increase in the amount of child


If the Payer Is in Arrears

  • Because the Probation Department garnishes wages, if the payer is

employed, payments are guaranteed.

  • The Probation Department has other tools at its disposal to collect from

self-employed payers.

  • If the payer is behind in payments, the court can arrange for state and/or

federal tax refunds to be sent to the payee instead.

  • The department has the ability to revoke or decline to renew a

driver’s license.

  • The department has the ability to revoke professional licenses.

Is Direct Pay an Option?

Of course, if you are the custodial parent, you are within your rights to request that payments be made directly to you without going through probation.

If you and your child’s other parent have a good relationship and if you believe that the payments will be made in good faith, then this option is possible. However, it is crucial that you understand the consequences if at some point he or she stops making payments in a timely manner.

A qualified NJ family law attorney can analyze your situation and explain what would be in your best interests. If you decide that you prefer direct payments, then your lawyer can include provisions in your child-support agreement that protect your interests; for example, it can be specified that automatic payments must be made directly into your bank account. In addition, a provision can be included in your agreement that provides if the payer is late with any direct payment, all future payments shall be payable through the Probation Department.




Contact an Experienced NJ Lawyer

Child support is an important matter. It affects the life of your child now and in the future. Contact an experienced New Jersey divorce and family law attorney for questions about child support, parenting time, spousal support, and other important issues before making decisions that will affect you and your children for many years.

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