Skip to Content

How to Prepare for a Child Support Hearing

Nov 2, 2023 | Written by: Diana N. Fredericks, Esq. |

If parents are unable to agree about how to support their children, the courts can intervene.  This applies to married parents who are divorcing, those who are not yet divorcing, or unmarried parents who have a child in common.  These types of child support proceedings can take place within either an FM docket (for matrimonial actions) or an FD docket (non-dissolution for persons never married).  Each docket has its own unique set of rules, so it is important to understand and appreciate the pros and cons of each and apply accordingly. 

In the event you apply for child support or are responding to an application, following are some tips to help ensure that you are properly prepared:

  1. Read the Scheduling Notice from the Courts carefully.  Take note of the list of items you are required to bring with you to the Hearing and be prepared accordingly.  This can include paystubs, tax returns, W2s, 1099s, and so on.  If your income is aberrational or variable, you may want to bring proof of that as well.
  1. Sometimes child support hearings are conducted by Hearing Officers who are NOT judges.  A Hearing Officer can make recommendations, which then go to a judge for official signature.  You will be asked if you consent to the recommendations.  It is important that you do not acknowledge the recommendations if you are dissatisfied or do not understand.  You have the right to be heard by a judge if you disagree with the Hearing Officer.  You may also ask that your matter be rescheduled with the judge at a different date/time to have counsel present.
  1. If you are seeking reimbursement for items such as medical reimbursements, college, etc., make sure you bring receipts and proof of payments.  Without proof to support your requests, you will most likely be denied your relief.
  1. If you are seeking enforcement of an issue already decided, make sure you attach the prior Court Order or agreement upon which you rely, as the court will not necessarily have access to same.
  1. In FD matters, you will likely be required to go for what is called a consent conference prior to being heard by the judge.  This typically takes place the day of your court date with mediation-trained court staff who attempt to resolve your case.  It is confidential and nonbinding, so if you are unable to resolve the issues, you can still appear before the judge, but this is typically a required first step.
  1. If you are seeking contribution toward the child’s share of healthcare insurance premiums, make sure you have objective proof from your healthcare insurance provider and/or employer showing the child’s proportionate share of the expenses.
  1. If this is the first time that child support is being calculated and there is no agreement as to custody or parenting time, it may be difficult for the Hearing Officer or judge to calculate because the number of overnights each parent has with the child is part of the calculation.  Each parent should be prepared to address this issue.
  1. If there are work-related childcare expenses (daycare), bring proof with you.  These expenses may be added to the Child Support Guidelines Award at the discretion of the court.
  1. If there are extraordinary expenses for the children, bring proof of those expenses with you.  These can include items like travel soccer or ski racing or horseback riding.  These items are typically outside of recreational or school sports.  These expenses may be added to the Child Support Guidelines Award at the discretion of the court.
  1. If a child has extraordinary medical or special needs, proof of this (particularly if recurring) must also be presented, as these expenses may be added to the Child Support Guidelines Award at the discretion of the court.
  1. If you and your spouse earned combined net incomes exceeding $3,600 per week, then you are considered an excess income case, and the guidelines no longer apply.  It will be necessary to prepare a budget for your child’s expenses. 
  1. If it is an FM case or an FD in which spousal support is sought, a Case Information Statement must be completed.  If it is an FD case, a summary financial statement is required. 

Although New Jersey utilizes guidelines that are formulaic, the data/input to those guidelines can be extremely complex and often nuanced.  Advocacy is important in the way this information is considered, presented and calculated.  Having an attorney review your matter and assist with these child support hearings is critical to protect your interests and those of your child(ren).

Diana Fredericks, Esq.


Diana N. Fredericks, Esq., devotes her practice solely to family law matters.  She is a Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and was named to the NJ Super Lawyers Rising Stars list in the practice of family law by Thomson Reuters from 2015 through 2021, to the NJ Super Lawyers list in 2023, and to the New Leaders of the Bar list by the New Jersey Law Journal in 2015.  Contact Ms. Fredericks for a consultation at 908-735-5161 or via email.

If you have a suggestion for a future blog topic, please feel free to submit it via the Contact Us form.

Any statements made herein are solely for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice.