Knowledge is power: Understanding common legal terms for NJ family law

Employment LawUseful terms for your NJ Family Law Case


The saying “knowledge is power” is relevant to New Jersey Family Law.  At The Durst Firm, we believe that educating our clients allows them the better engage in the proceedings, better understand what is happening with their case, and better assist us as their attorney in achieving an optimal result.


As attorneys, we too easily forget that we often speak in “legalese” and use terms that are not familiar to many.  To help reduce the confusion, we offer the following list of commonly used terms.

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

Application: An application is written request in which you ask the court to issue an order or to change an order that has already been issued.

Certification: A certification is a written statement made to the court when you file papers with the court, swearing that the information contained in the field papers is true.

Child Support Number (also referred to as “CS Number”): The Child Support Number is the identifying number assigned to your child, spousal, or alimony support case.

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

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

Docket Number: The docket number is the identifying number assigned to every case filed in the court.

Exhibits: Exhibits are written documents you provide to the court to support what you want the court to decide.

Income Withholding/Wage Garnishment: Income Withholding/Wage Garnishment is a process where automatic deductions are made from wages or other income to pay your support obligation. 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 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.

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

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

Petitioner: Petitioner is another name for the person starting the court action by filing the appropriate papers the court will consider.

Respondent: Respondent is another name for the person who is named as the other party in the court action filed by the petitioner. This person can answer the filed by petitioner by filing a cross motion or written response with the court.

Relief: To ask for relief is to ask the court to grant something such as custody, parenting time, or support.

Support Obligation: 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 has to be paid. (i.e., per week, per month, bi-weekly, etc.).

Support Enforcement: The Probation Division is required to enforce court orders that call for the payment of child support, health care coverage, and/or spousal support/alimony. If support is not being paid timely, Probation Support Enforcement has many state and federal tools available to enforce child support orders. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Income withholding
  • Court hearing
  • Bench warrant
  • Tax offset- federal and state
  • Judgement (liens attached to property & assets)
  • Credit bureau notification
  • Financial Institution Data Match (FIDM)- seizure of bank accounts
  • Child Support Lien Network (CSLN)- seizure of proceeds from law suits
  • Passport denial
  • License suspension
  • Lottery interception

About Sandy Durst

Sandy Durst, Esq., is the founding partner of The Durst Firm where he heads the Family Law Department. Individuals facing a divorce benefit from the combination of legal skill, common sense and compassion that Sandy brings to each and every matter. Each case is given the personalized attention it deserves.
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