Divorce FAQ's

Child Support Arrears and Credit Reports

1. I owe some “serious” back child support. Will this debt nuke my credit report?

If you are a person who owes child support arrears in New Jersey, and if you owe at least $1,000, then your arrears may be reported to the three major credit bureaus. Thereafter,  your credit report will be available to your creditors,  any potential lenders, and to potential employers.

2. Will I be notified before information about my debt is reported to the credit bureaus?

Before any information about your child support debt is given to the three credit bureaus, the Probation Child Support Enforcement (PCSE) unit that handles your case will mail you a notice if the office has your current address. However, if a judgment for child support has already been entered against you for child support arrears, then that judgment will automatically appear on your credit report.

3. What are the acceptable grounds for an appeal?

If you are not the right person, or if you owe less than $1,000.

4. How can I appeal the reporting of my child support arrears to the credit bureaus?

You have 35 days from the date of the notice to submit an appeal. The 35-day time frame starts as of the date of the notice, not the date you actually receive it. All appeals must be in writing and also must be sent to:

Administrative Office of the Courts
Child Support Enforcement Services
P. O. Box 976
Trenton, New Jersey 08625

To appeal, you can use the space provided on your notice, or you can write a letter. It is important to state that you are appealing credit reporting, and the reason why.

Please keep in mind that letters, telephone calls or visits to the PCSE unit, which handles your case, are not appeals and will not top credit reporting. You must prove that you do not owe at least $1,000.

You should send copies of records or documents to prove what you write in your appeal. Do not send originals. For example, if you claim you are not the right person, you should send a copy of your driver’s license and/or social security card. If you say that you do not owe $1,000, you should send a copy of the court order and copies to prove that you paid. It is important to appeal within the 35 days. Any appeals that are received after the 35 days cannot be accepted. Your debt already will have been reported to credit reporting agencies.

5. What happens after I send in my appeal?

The Administrative Office of the Courts, Child Support Enforcement Services (CSES) section, reviews each letter of appeal. If you claim that you are not the right person or that you do not owe more than $1,000, then the reporting is temporarily stopped. Your appeal letter is then sent to the PCSE unit which handles your case. If your account can be adjusted based on the information that you have sent, the PCSE unit, which handles your case, will do so. If not, the PCSE unit will schedule a hearing, usually within 30 days of when your appeal was reviewed. You must appear at this hearing.

6. Will credit reporting change how I should make my payments?

No. You will continue to make your payments through the New Jersey Family Support Payment Center. Any updated account information is then provided to the credit reporting agencies on a monthly basis. Each credit agency has their own policy as to when they update the reporting information. It is important to continue to make your payments regularly, so that the credit report shows that your debt is being reduced.

7. How will this report affect my ability to get credit?

Any child support delinquency may or may not affect your credit rating. You should contact the creditor or lender if you want to know its policy.

8. How can I keep my child support arrears from being reported?

By law, any child support case with an arrears balance of $1,000 or greater or a child support judgment can be reported. The PCSE unit will provide updated information to the credit reporting agencies on your arrears balance on a monthly basis. However, each credit reporting agency has their own time frames as to when they utilize this information to update their records. This information can be included on your credit report for up to 7 years after your child support case is closed.

Credit reporting cannot be removed unless it was reported in error by the court. If the creditor or lender wants proof that a person is making regular payments, the PCSE unit that handles the case can be contacted. The PCSE unit cannot offer information directly to a creditor but will provide information to the obligor.

9. I have made all of my payments, just as I was ordered to, yet my debt still is more than $1,000. How do I keep this from being reported?

The court may issue an order directing the case not be reported. In order to obtain such an order, you must file a motion before the Family Court in the county in which your case originally was heard. If you get an order saying that your case should not be reported, then you should forward a copy of that order to your PCSE unit.

10. I have asked for a copy of my credit report, and the report is wrong, how do I get it corrected?

If the credit report does not agree with PCSE records, then you should contact the credit reporting agency for information on how to file a consumer dispute.

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