Child support is probably the most important of all family law issues, with the possible exception of domestic violence. Settle for too little child support, and an innocent party will suffer deprivation. Settle for too much, on the other hand, and you will essentially place yourself into something like indentured servitude. Child support is an issue that you absolutely must get right.
Fear not, because we’re here to help, and we know what we’re doing. Here at The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC, our Red Bank child support lawyers strive to serve as a beacon of hope for our clients who are struggling with child support issues. Since our funding in 2009, we have developed our practice into one of the most respected family law firms in Red Bank as well as the rest of New Jersey.
We pride ourselves on treating our clients like family. Indeed, some of our own lawyers have been through the uncertainty and conflict over child support issues that you might be dealing with right now. There isn’t much that can happen that we haven’t seen before.
Whatever your circumstances, our goal is to minimize conflict and ensure that the resolution of your child support case is successful and harmonious. Contact our law offices in Red Bank, NJ, today at (732) 747-1882 to set up a free consultation.
How the Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC Can Help You Resolve Your Child Support Issues in Red Bank
Right from the moment of our founding, we set our goal to become the top family law firm in New Jersey. Since then, the world has noticed. Our award-winning legal team has been recognized by prestigious institutions such as Super Lawyers and lauded by clients on platforms from Avvo to Google.
We bring over 20 years of family law experience to your case to ensure that your journey through the Red Bank legal system is smooth, efficient, and focused on the best possible outcome for you and your family. Here are some of the things our experienced Red Bank family lawyers can do for you:
- Calculate accurate child support amounts;
- Modifying child support orders:
- Negotiating out-of-court agreements;
- Representing you at court hearings and mediation;
- Enforcing child support orders;
- Advising on tax implications;
- Handling interstate child support issues;
- Assistance with paternity matters; and
- Providing emotional support and guidance to help you make better decisions.
Don’t let anyone convince you that you don’t need a lawyer to handle your child support issue. Trying to represent yourself is risky and possibly disastrous. Learn about your legal rights and options by contacting us in Red Bank, New Jersey, today for a free case evaluation.
What Is Child Support?
Child support is money that a court compels a parent to pay to finance their child’s needs. Typically, a court will order a non-custodial parent to pay child support payments to a custodial parent. The amount of child support awarded depends on various factors, including each spouse’s financial means.
What Expenses Does Child Support Cover in Red Bank, NJ?
Child support expenses can cover all manner of expenses, from necessities to luxuries, depending on the financial resources of the child’s parents. Following are some examples:
- Basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter;
- Birthday and holiday gifts;
- Childcare costs;
- Clothing and personal items;
- Emergency expenses;
- Entertainment expenses;
- Extracurricular activities and hobbies;
- Fitness expenses such as gym memberships, sports equipment, and more;
- Insurance premiums, especially health insurance;
- Uninsured medical expenses;
- Furniture, appliances, and home repairs.
- Housing and utility bills;
- Internet and communication expenses;
- Social and cultural activities;
- Special needs expenses, if the child suffers from disabilities;
- Summer camps;
- Travel and vacations; and
- Private tutoring if necessary.
New Jersey child support guidelines do not include college tuition. Nevertheless, New Jersey courts often do expect the non-custodial parent to contribute to their child’s college expenses.
How Does a Red Bank, New Jersey Court Calculate Child Support Obligations?
The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines normally determine the amount of child support that the non-custodial parent must pay. Nevertheless, more informal dispute resolutions such as mediation and negotiation can allow the parents to generate a plan that better meets their child’s specific needs.
What Factors Determine the Amount of Child Support the Non-Custodial Parent Must Pay?
The entire process for determining New Jersey child support payments is too complex to reproduce here. In general, however, courts refer to the following process:
- Deciding the “fair income” of the parents: The fair income of either parent is normally equal to their income–even lottery winnings. If a parent does not work despite being able to, a court will decide how much money the parent should be able to earn and incorporate that much into the parent’s fair income.
- Determining applicable deductions. Your taxes are legitimate deductions from your income. The court cannot use money you owe in taxes as a basis for child support liability. Other deductions from your paycheck, however, such as credit union deductions, do count as income that can determine how much you have to pay in child support.
- Determine the Combined Net Income (CNI). Both parents’ income goes into calculating CNI, after taking out applicable deductions such as welfare payments and taxes.
- Dividing up the basic child support award: If both parents have the same fair income, they split the award 50/50. Most of the time, one parent earns more than the other. If so, the richer parent will probably bear responsibility for more than 50% of the total child support award.
- Visitation and custody adjustments. If the parents have a voluntary plan or a court order that specifies how much time each one spends with their children, the parent who spends the most amount of time with the children can receive a special deduction. The idea is that if one parent spends five days a week with the children, they probably spend more money on the support of the children than the parent who spends only weekends with them. Consequently, the parent who spends the least time with the children is usually the parent who actually pays child support.
- Add-ons and special deductions: If a family has add-on expenses such as third-party child care, for example, these amounts are added into expenses and split using the same percentages used for the CNI.
- Some special deductions, such as other child support payments, alimony, and certain government benefits, are deducted.
- The final child support order: The court should assess the amount of child support calculated in accordance with the above-described guidelines. If it uses any other amount, it must provide a reason.
This is a general outline of the process, and each step may not apply to every case. Child support is very much determined on a case-by-case basis, and the quality of your legal representation could play a significant role in the outcome.
Can You Modify Child Support Payments?
Child support orders are supposed to be “permanent,” but they are not literally permanent. They can be changed, but there must be a good reason for the change. Typically, that means a substantial change in the circumstances of one of the parents, such as:
- If the paying spouse suffers a “substantial” drop in income (25% or more), they can ask the court to lower their child support payments.
- If the paying spouse enjoys a substantial increase in income, the other parent might ask the court to increase that parent’s child support obligations.
- If the non-paying (custodial) parent’s income drops substantially, they might ask the court to increase the paying parent’s child support obligations to make up the difference.
- If the non-paying parent’s income increases substantially, the paying parent might ask the court to decrease their child support obligations.
Other changes in circumstances might also justify a change in child support obligations. The child might have gotten sick or suffered an accident. This could result in increased necessary expenses and a corresponding increase in child support obligations.
Other Changes That Might Justify Modification of Child Support Payments
Following are just a few examples of changes, other than income changes, that might convince a court to modify child support payments:
- Change in custody arrangements: Since it is the non-custodial parent that normally pays child support, a change in custody might justify a modification of child support obligations.
- Changes in the child’s needs: Children tend to get more expensive as they get older. Educational expenses, for example, might increase over time.
- Health issues or disability: If the child suffers health problems, their financial needs might increase.
- Remarriage or cohabitation: The remarriage or cohabitation of either parent can affect child support obligations.
- Cost of living increases: Inflation could justify an increase in child support payments.
Many other changes might justify changes in child support obligations.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Red Bank Child Support Lawyer
A single error in your understanding of how child support works could result in a very unpleasant surprise down the road. To avoid an outcome like this, schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your child support issue with us. Contact our Red Bank child support attorneys online or call us at (732) 812-5265 so that we can answer your questions and explain your options.