After a complaint for support is filed in the Domestic Relations Section, both parties are ordered to appear at a support conference conducted by a Conference Officer. If known, the parties' attorneys are notified of the conference. The parties will be sent a packet of information to provide regarding their incomes and financial circumstances. Any reported employers will be subpoenaed for income information. If paternity of a child is not resolved, this is the first issue addressed at the conference. Once paternity is established, the conference officer will ask both parties questions about their financial circumstances as well as expenses for the children/spouse such as child care and health insurance premiums. Using the statewide support guidelines
, the conference officer calculates a guideline support amount based on the information presented at the conference. The parties may agree to a support amount, subject to the approval of the Court, which may or may not be based on the guideline support amount. If the parties do not reach an agreement, a recommended support Order is submitted to the Court for review and approval. If the plaintiff is receiving TANF benefits, the guideline calculation is used in the recommended Order to the Court. Medical support, including insurance and out of pocket expenses, is also discussed at the conference and addressed in the Order.
Typically the order is entered retroactive to the date the plaintiff filed for support, with few exceptions.
If an agreement is not reached and either party wishes to appeal the Order, the parties have 20 days from the date of mailing of the Order to demand a hearing before the Court. If a demand is not filed, the recommended Order becomes a Final Order. If a demand for hearing is filed, a hearing de novo is scheduled before the Court at which time a Final Order will be entered based on the rulings of the Judge presiding over the hearing.*Proof of original service must be established prior to the establishment of paternity and/or support.