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More children will receive the assistance they deserve
TRENTON – Today, New Jersey became the first state to gain an important enforcement tool with the ability to establish and collect child support from parents living in the Dominican Republic under the terms of a landmark agreement signed by its Attorney General, Dr. Radhamés Jiménez Peña and Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez. The agreement, which becomes effective immediately, was attested by New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa.The Reciprocal Agreement compels New Jersey and the Dominican Republic to assist each other with ensuring the support of children by their parents within their jurisdictions.  Currently, there are 536 active cases in the New Jersey Child Support System for which one party resides in the Dominican Republic.  New Jersey has similar arrangements with 21 other countries, including: Bermuda, El Salvador, Jamaica and Mexico.

“This partnership is historic and signifies important progress for our Child Support system,” said Commissioner Velez, whose Department oversees the Child Support program. “Child Support is an essential anti-poverty component. Custodial parents who receive timely, consistent payments are more self-sufficient and less likely to require state or federal social service benefits.”

Previous to the agreement, it was difficult to initiate or enforce child support orders with parents who left New Jersey to return to the Dominican Republic without their child/ren. The same challenges applied to situations in which a parent moved to New Jersey from the Dominican Republic, leaving their child/ren behind. 

“This agreement is right and just,” said Dr. Jimenez Pena, who traveled to New Jersey with staff to participate in this long awaited event. “Children are entitled to be supported by both parents and parents cannot allow nationality and distance to interfere with the moral and legal responsibility they have to their children.”

“In law enforcement, the inability to carry out our duties in another jurisdiction can be incredibly frustrating,” said New Jersey Attorney General Chiesa, who attended the event and attested to the signatures. “Reciprocity allows New Jersey and the Dominican Republic to cooperatively and effectively manage child support orders.

Staff from DHS’ Division of Family Development’s Office of Child Support Services met over the course of two years with representatives from the Office of the Attorney General in the Dominican Republic to develop the agreement. It becomes effective immediately.

“Today’s ceremony culminates a lot of hard work by a team of people committed to ensuring that children get the support they need and deserve,” said Alisha Griffin, Assistant Director of DHS’ Office of Child Support Services. “It’s a proud day for all of us.”

Last year, New Jersey’s Child Support Program distributed over $1.2 billion to children through their custodial parents. It consistently ranks among the top ten states in collection and enforcement.

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