Children can be a wonderful blessing, but they also take a commitment of resources, love and time to raise. If you and your spouse are separating, deciding how to continue raising your children may be a challenge. On top of this, going from a two-income household to a single-income household is difficult for anyone, especially for those supporting children.
The purpose of child support is to provide resources to the parent with custody so they can provide their children with a safe and healthy environment. If you and your spouse are going through a divorce or separation, an experienced family law attorney can help you advocate for you and your children. At The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC, we’re proud to help residents of Monmouth County get through one of the most difficult challenges in their lives. Whether you’re going through divorce now or just considering it, give us a call. A Monmouth County child support lawyer will give you honest advice you can trust.
How Is Child Support Calculated in New Jersey?
The amount of child support that can be ordered depends on the net income of the couple and the lifestyle they enjoyed prior to their divorce. However, the amount most likely won’t exceed what’s considered necessary for the child. Expenses such as summer camp, private school, a bar mitzvah, lavish vacations and other unnecessary costs will most likely not be considered in child support payments.
That being said, until the child reaches their 18th birthday, gets married, joins the military, or “moves beyond the sphere of influence,” both parents are legally obligated by New Jersey law to provide financial support.
In the case of child support, payments are calculated based on multiple factors set forth by New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. These factors include:
- The number of children for whom support is being paid;
- Each parent’s income;
- The percentage of time spent with each parent;
- The cost of child care paid by each parent, outside of child support payments;
- Other sources of income, including child support for a previous relationship;
- Any other support being paid, such as spousal support (alimony); and
- Debts and liabilities of both parents.
When calculating child support payments, the gross income of each parent is taken into consideration. Gross income includes:
- Wages, tips, and commissions
- Bonuses and royalties
- Business income
- Income derived from property
- Unemployment income
- Life insurance
- Social Security or VA benefits
- Retirement plan distributions
- Alimony payments received
- Gambling winnings
- Capital gains
- Income tax credits
The percentage of time each parent spends with the children also plays a major role in determining child support payments. When parenting is shared, payments will be significantly less than for a sole parenting custody arrangement. Shared parenting includes 50/50 custody splits, as well as arrangements in which the non-custodial parent has the children at least 28 percent of the time.
The above list of criteria used in calculations is far from exhaustive. A Monmouth County child support lawyer can review your case and help you determine how to proceed.
Deviations From the NJ Guidelines
Under certain circumstances, the court may deviate from established guidelines. When a household’s income exceeds $187,200, for example, the court may consider costs that wouldn’t otherwise be factored into support calculations, such as private schooling, tutoring, travel, and the equitable distribution of property. To determine if it is appropriate to deviate from the NJ Child Support Guidelines, the judge will consider the parents’ respective lifestyles and the standard of living the child is used to, the earning capacities of both parents, and all debts of both parents and the child, if applicable.
Modifications of Child Support Obligations
There are several reasons for modifying support payments. Below are a few common examples:
- Child leaves home for college, trade school, or another reason;
- Changes to the income levels of one or both parents;
- A parent suffers serious illness or disability;
- Change in needs of children, including private school and medical needs;
- Incarceration; or
- A parent remarries or has additional children.
The above list is only a glimpse into the many reasons parents seek child support modifications. In addition, if your financial situation changes after you’ve established a payment schedule, child support can be modified to reflect your new circumstances. Your payment could either increase or decrease, depending on whether you are making more or less money than you were before.
Speak with an experienced Monmouth County child support lawyer at the Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC to ensure that the child support you are currently paying or receiving is fair and appropriate to your unique situation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody in New Jersey
Is Child Support Mandatory in NJ?
Yes. Under New Jersey law, children have a constitutional right to be financially supported by both parents. As such, when a relationship ends, one parent generally pays child support to the other parent. The amount of child support paid will depend largely on the income of both parents and the percentage of time spent with each parent.
When Do Child Support Payments End in New Jersey?
The end of child support payments varies from family to family based on multiple factors. Generally speaking, child support payments must continue until the age of 18. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as when the child has a disability or is pursuing higher education. Child support payments may also end earlier than age 18 if the child is emancipated before this time.
Are Parents Obligated To Pay For College Tuition in NJ?
New Jersey considers college expenses to be a necessary educational expense. As a result, the non-custodial parent is generally obligated to contribute to these expenses. However, college tuition is not automatically included as part of a child support agreement; it must not create an undue hardship for the parent.
Will I Still Have To Pay Child Support If I Have 50/50 Custody?
In the event of a 50/50 custody split, the parent with a higher income will generally have to pay some child support to the other parent.
Contact a Monmouth County Child Support Attorney Today
The end of a marriage or any relationship involving children can be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. This is especially true when there is disagreement about child custody arrangements and support payments. At the Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC, our divorce attorneys have helped countless families get through this difficult time in the quickest, most economical way possible.
Representing clients in across Monmouth County and the surrounding areas of NJ, our team of child support attorneys will work tirelessly to understand your goals and objectives, protect your rights, and position you for the best possible outcome. Contact the Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC today at (732) 747-1882 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.