New Jersey Child Support Attorney
New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines are covered by Appendix IX of the New Jersey Court Rules. These Child Support Guidelines state that child support is to be fairly allocated between both parents – but this does not necessarily mean that both parents will pay the same amount. Rather, the child support determination is made based mostly on the parents’ respective incomes and the parenting time schedule. Furthermore, standard of living is factored into the guidelines. This means that as the parents’ incomes increase, it is assumed that the cost of raising the child also increases and the child support payments are modified accordingly. New Jersey Child Support Attorney Christopher Leon Garibian is skilled with the child support guidelines and can help you.
Child Support: Sole Parenting Worksheet
New Jersey provides a handy worksheet called the Sole Parenting Worksheet that will help you calculate sole parent child custody payments (https://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/rules/appndx_ix_c.pdf).
Child Support: Shared Parenting Worksheet
There is also a useful New Jersey tool called the Shared Parenting Worksheet that will help you calculate shared parenting custody payments (https://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/rules/appndx_ix_d.pdf).
New Jersey Child Support Guidelines
As mentioned above, New Jersey’s child support laws are covered by Appendix IX of the New Jersey Court Rules (https://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/rules/appndx_ix_a.pdf). These guidelines are to be allocated based on each parent’s respective income, and only applies to parents whose net (combined) incomes are more than $170 per week ($8,840 per year). Further, the guidelines only apply up to $3,600 per week ($187,200 per year) in net combined income.
Above that, the New Jersey court has no Guidelines. Child Support will award child support payments as they would for a $3,600 per week income, with a discretionary amount added on top of that to accommodate the parents’ additional finances. That discretionary amount is governed by factors listed in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, including:
- Each parent’s assets and sources of income;
- The financial circumstances and standard of living of each parent;
- The child’s specific needs; and
- Each parent’s ability to earn a living (governed by factors such as employment skills, training, education, work experience, custodial responsibilities, etc.).
If the parties’ net combined income is lower than $170 per week, the Court will award discretionary child support based on the child’s needs and the payor’s overall expenses and income. That amount will typically be between $5 and whatever the payment amount would be at an income level of $170 per week.
Child Support: Imputed Income (New Jersey)
It is worth briefly noting that if a parent is unemployed (or underemployed) voluntarily, without just cause, the court has the option of imputing income to that parent for purposes of determining the level of child support that must be paid in accordance with the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. Imputed income essentially means that the court will say, “You were making this much in the past – or an average person with your education and work history is making this much – so we are going to calculate the child support payments as if you are currently making that much per week. We are doing this because you are voluntarily choosing not to work to your full potential, and you don’t have any good reason for your unemployment or underemployment.”
New Jersey Child Support Guidelines: Continued
The stated premise behind New Jersey’s child support guidelines is that children “should not be the economic victims of divorce or out-of-wedlock birth.” N.J. Court Rules Appendix IX. Accordingly, children are “entitled to share in the current income of both parents,” and therefore child support should be “a continuous duty of both parents.” Id.
Thus, New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines cover the calculation of child support payments for each child’s share of expenses for housing, clothing, food, transportation, entertainment, and un-reimbursed health care (up to and including $250 per child per year), as well as other miscellaneous items as deemed appropriate by the Court. The Court also has the discretion to add other expenses before the final calculation – including the child’s health insurance, anticipated unreimbursed health care expenses (even if they are recurring), child care expenses, and more.
These expenses are allocated to each parent in accordance with how much time the child will spend with that parent, as well as that parent’s respective level of income when compared to the parents’ combined net income. That means that a parent that makes more money will likely pay more in child support – which makes sense, because that parent’s income is disproportionately providing a higher standard of living to the child, and thus it would be unjust to require the parent making less to pay an identical amount.
Child Support: Adjustments to the Guideline’s Calculation
As a parent spends more (or less) time with a child, the child support calculation can be adjusted to account for that parenting time. The theory is that when a child spends more time with a parent, that parent’s expenses will increase proportionally.
Child Support: Age of the Child as a Factor
When child support is calculated in New Jersey, it is based on providing care for a child from birth to the age of 17. The child support payments are averaged out. This is an important consideration, because it costs more to raise a teenager than it does an infant. Thus, there is the presumption that the early child support payments will generate a surplus, which is to be applied later when the child is a teenager and generating more expenses.
This creates an issue when the child in question is older at the time of the child support calculations (because the guidelines assume the payments are averaged from birth to age 17). Thus, when a child is 12 years old (or older) at the time of the child support calculations, the final figure should be adjusted upwards by 14.6%.
It is also worth mentioning that although the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines state that they cover until the child is age 17, the Court can extend the child support payments as long as the child is still in high school or in a secondary school. But once the child leaves for college, the child support payments typically cease (unless the child is living at home, in which case the Court has discretion).
Child Support: Shared Parenting
You might have noticed that two different worksheets were listed at the top of this page. One worksheet is for Sole Parenting, and the other is for Shared Parenting. The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines operate under the presumption that the child and/or children are living in a single household. However, this might not be the case. Where a child spends 2 or more overnights per week in the non-custodial parent’s household (104+ overnights in total per year), the Court can deem it to be Shared Parenting. If the overnight requirement is met, the parties must file a Parenting Plan with the Court to establish responsibilities and parenting time for each party.
If the Court does find the parties to be in a Shared Parenting situation, the Shared Parenting Worksheet listed at the top of this page can be used. However, it is also worth noting that the Court has more wiggle room with the Shared Parenting guidelines versus the Sole Parenting Guidelines in New Jersey.
New Jersey Child Support Guidelines are Stringent
In New Jersey child support cases, the Court typically operates under the rebuttable presumption that the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines will apply. However, the Court may deviate from the guidelines under certain specific instances. If the Court does deviate from the guidelines, it must state so in writing in the Court’s Order and/or on the Child Support Guidelines worksheet (see above). Some example instances in which the Court might deviate from the guidelines are as follows:
- Unreimbursed medical expenses of either parent;
- One household having six or more kids;
- The child’s educational expenses; and
- The child’s special needs.
Child Support Attorney in NJ
Child Support in New Jersey can be complex legal issues. If you are going through a divorce and you have questions about the New Jersey Child Support Guideline or how to create a child support plan that works best for you and your family, give Christopher Leon Garibian a call. He is an experienced Child Support Attorney and is dedicated to guiding residents.