If you and your spouse divorce or separate, the court hearing your case will likely establish a child support order. This order directs the parent without primary custody of the child to pay the other parent monetary support. This obligation generally continues until the child either turns 18 years old or graduates from high school.
You may bristle at such an order if one is entered that directs you to pay the other parent money. The name of such orders suggests that they are used to support your child. However, you have no right to demand an accounting for the money you pay.
Moreover, the money you pay pursuant to a child support order is paid to the other parent, not to your child directly.
Child Support Helps Maintain Your Child’s Standard of Living
Child support payments are meant to help the parent with whom your child lives provide for your child’s needs. This includes paying for the child’s physical needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. The support obligation also addresses incidental costs associated with raising your child, such as school enrollment or activity fees.
Medical expenses that are not covered by insurance may be the subject of a separate court order. For example, if your child needs braces, a separate order may direct that you pay for half of the procedure. Similarly, child support is not typically meant to cover expenses like car payments or family vacations.
Child support is about more than providing basic support so that your child does not starve or go homeless. Courts and legislators alike recognize that stability is key to a child’s healthy development. Sudden changes in the child’s home environment can be disruptive and lead to behavioral and emotional issues in children.
Therefore, a child support order aims to provide the receiving parent with sufficient support to maintain the same standard of living the child would have enjoyed had you and the other parent remained together.
Supporting Your Child Involves Both Parents
It can be easy to see child support as one parent’s obligation. But both parents have a role to play in supporting the child. When the court goes to set a child support amount, it cannot simply pull a number from thin air.
Instead, the court must examine both parents’ income information. Then, using a legislatively-created formula, the court arrives at a child support figure.
By considering the child’s standard of living based not just on your income but the other parent’s income, the court spreads out the obligation to appropriately support your child between you and the other parent. In other words, both you and the other parent have a part to play in maintaining your child’s standard of living and promoting stability.
What to Do if You Have Concerns About Child Support in Monmouth County, New Jersey
You may develop legitimate concerns about how your child is being cared for in light of your child support obligation. If so, and if you cannot resolve the matter with the other parent informally, you may need to bring the matter before the court.
While a court rarely orders an accounting of how the custodial parent spends their money or orders their financial affairs, the court can consider whether your child’s standard of living has dramatically decreased.
This finding can lead the court to consider whether the child’s best interests continue to be served by residing with the other parent.
Contact an Experienced Red Bank Child Support Attorney at The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC for Legal Advice
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm in Red Bank. NJ at (732) 747-1882 or contact us online today.
You can also visit our law firm at 157 Broad St #111, Red Bank, NJ 07701.