Divorcing parents often have many questions regarding Child Support. While all cases are different, let’s clarify some of the most important factors regarding Child Support in New Jersey.

  • Let us start with the idea of Child Support itself. What is its function in a divorce proceeding? It really comes down to three basic concepts: (a) both parents are responsible for financially supporting a child or children that they have made their own through conception or adoption; (b) the income of both parents must be considered in a figure to raise a child; (c) the child or children must never be the economic victims in either a divorce proceeding or the breakup of unmarried parents.
  • Child Support in New jersey is considered a “rebuttable presumption”. What this means is that Child Support will be awarded in every circumstance. Something like marital fault in a divorce would not alleviate the necessity of child support, nor would one parent’s unwillingness or inability to be part of the child’s life. Child support may be adjusted if one or both parents have other minor dependents or if the child is receiving government benefits.
  • Child Support does take into consideration how much time each parent is spending with the child. The Guidelines are split into two general categories: Shared Parenting or Sole Parenting. The figures can be quite different dependent on the category you use. To qualify for Shared Parenting the Parent of Alternate Residence (PAR) must have the child a minimum of 28% of the time on a yearly basis. If the Court finds that a parent enters into a Shared Parenting Arrangement, thereby lowering their percentage of the Child Support payments, the court can, over a reasonably extensive period of time, recalculate the Child Support obligation based on actual time spent or reduce it if no time is spent. Child Support may also include predictable and recurring health care expenses, or any other recurring expenses approved by the Court.
  • What is covered by the Child Support payment? Child Support covers expenses for the children including but not limited to housing, food, and clothing. Child Support also adds into its calculation childcare and medical insurance, meaning whichever parent is paying for either of those expenses gets a credit in their percentage of the Child Support.
  • What is not covered by the Child Support payment? Child support does not include unreimbursed medical expenses (after the Parent of Primary Residence pays the first $250/child/year). Typically, Private school tuition and/or college is not covered by Child Support. It is also important to note that things like sports, lessons, hobbies, transportation, recreation, tutoring, and extracurricular activities are also not included in Child Support. Financial arrangements for these expenses need to be discussed and agreed upon by the parents. Even miscellaneous expenses like hair care, books, prom expenses, and school supplies will need to be paid for outside of Child Support.
  • It is also important to know that Child Support, while based on the parties’ incomes, will include any alimony paid into or from that income. Likewise, the Court will look to see if it feels either party is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. If that appears to be the case, the Court can impute income to that parent, either by using a former salary earned by them, or by using the New Jersey Department of labor Standards (NJDOL). Further, the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines are “capped” at a combined net of $187,200/year. This means if the parties combined incomes exceed the Guidelines, a different negotiated or court Ordered method will be used.

The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines are complex, and this covers only the most common issues. As stated above, all cases are different, and all scenarios must be given an in-depth and comprehensive analysis. Contact your New Jersey family lawyer for expert analysis of your Child Support obligation.