Understanding New Jersey Child Support Laws (Part 1)

If you are about to get a divorce in New Jersey and have children, one of the things that is most likely a major concern to you is child support. This article shares some crucial things about child support in New Jersey. Read on.

Child Support is a Legal Obligation

One of the most crucial things you need to know about child support in New Jersey is that it is a legal obligation. Underlying the guidelines courts should use when determining child support in NJ is the philosophy that children are entitled to share in both their parents’ income and should not have to suffer economically because their parents are getting divorced. If a parent intentionally chooses not to pay child support, they could face serious consequences, such as wage garnishment and jail time.

How is Child Support Calculated in New Jersey?

According to NJ’s child support guidelines, child support should be calculated using the “Income Shares Model.” According to this method, each share of the child support amount is based on both the parents’ income. Each parent pays a percentage of the total combined income. If, for example, parent A earns 40% of the combined total income and parent B earns 60%, parent A is responsible for 40% of the total child support, and parent B is responsible for 60% of the total child support.

If one parent has sole physical custody, the non-custodial parent sends child support payments to the other parent since the court assumes that the custodial parent spends their share of the child support on the children. On the other hand, if parents share physical custody, the court makes modifications to account for the fact that both parents cater to their children’s needs when the children are with them. Other special situations that the law accounts for include childcare and college costs. Such costs may be additions to the basic support order.

Imputing Income

Sometimes, parents try to limit their income to reduce the child support they must pay. If it is discovered that a parent is purposely limiting their income, for example, by remaining unemployed, the court will impute income. This means the court will make child support decisions based on what it believes the dishonest parent could be earning.

Deviating From the NJ Child Support Guidelines

In NJ, a judge can award a child support amount lower or higher than the amount calculated under the guidelines. However, this is only possible if, after considering several factors, the judge finds that awarding an amount higher or lower is what is appropriate. The following are some of the factors that may warrant adjusting the guideline amount;

  • The children’s ages
  • Very low or high income
  • Special needs of disabled or gifted children
  • Tuition for children
  • Unreimbursed medical or dental expenses
  • Validated financial obligations for a disabled family member or elder care

The most crucial thing the court must consider when deciding whether to depart from the state’s child support guidelines is the child’s best interests.

What Does Child Support in NJ Cover?

The following are some of the things child support in New Jersey covers;

  • Basic living expenses, such as clothing, food, and housing
  • School
  • Healthcare needs
  • Transportation and travel
  • Costs associated with special needs

Contact a New Jersey Family Lawyer

If you are a parent and are about to get a divorce in New Jersey and need help understanding child support laws, contact our qualified New Jersey family lawyer at The Trabosh Law Firm.

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