In determining the amount that a parent will pay in child support, a court can consider the following factors:
- The needs of the child;
- Each parent’s standard of living and economic circumstances;
- Each parent’s income and assets;
- Each parent’s earning ability (including educational background, training, skills, experience, and custodial responsibility for the children);
- The cost of child care;
- The length of time needed for a parent to obtain training and experience and secure appropriate employment;
- The age and health of the child and parents;
- The income, assets, and earning ability of the child;
- The parents’ court-ordered responsibilities to support others (such as previous spouses and children of previous relationships);and
- The reasonable debts and liabilities of the children and parents.
A court may also consider any other factors the judge deems relevant.
Child support in New Jersey is determined using the Child Support Guidelines.These Guidelines are to be used as a “rebuttable presumption” to establish and modify child support orders.This means that New Jersey courts must apply the Guidelines unless circumstances would make the Guidelines inappropriate or if the spouses combined annual net, after-tax income exceeds $187,200.
The amount of child support in the New Jersey Child Support schedules is based on the average amounts that non-divorced families spend for their children’s basic needs.
In addition to the basic child support obligations, some families may have additional expenses.These expenses may include things like child care, health insurance premiums for the child, certain health care expenses, private school tuition, expenses for therapy and equipment for special needs children, and transportation for visitation.
Parents can estimate the amount of child support that a New Jersey court might order by using the official state worksheets provided on the New Jersey Judiciary website.
Additional adjustments must be made in cases when parents have net, annual income below the US poverty line or above $187,200 per year.
If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or under-employed, a court may calculate that parent’s income based on what he or she could earn rather than on what he or she is actually earning.
Child support can also be adjusted up or down based on the amount of time a child spends with each parent.
As with alimony, awards of child support may be modified.Such modifications may be based on either a parent’s or a child’s change of circumstances.
For example, a parent may not be able to pay as much in child support if he or she loses a job.Conversely, a parent may be able to pay more if he or she gets a better job, a promotion, or a bonus.
Getting a new job, or a job with greater responsibilities and longer hours, may let a parent earn more but may also increase his or her childcare expenses.
A child’s financial needs may increase because of:
- Long-term illness, including mental illness;
- Long-term or permanent disability;
- Special needs;
- Exceptional talents (in music, art, sports, etc.) that the parents wish to support with training and other opportunities;
- Switching from a public school to a private school;and/or
- Going to college.
A child’s financial needs may decrease because of:
- Recovering from an illness;
- The child giving up an expensive activity;
- Switching from private school to public school;
- No need for after-school childcare as the child grows older;
- The child’s own employment;and/or
- The child reaching the age of majority.
If a parent fails to pay child support as ordered, a court may impose a lien against the real estate or personal property the parent owns in New Jersey; a parent who fails to pay can also be incarcerated.
If you have questions about child support rights and obligations in New Jersey, please contact our office to arrange an appointment with an experienced Bergen County family law attorney at Chase & Chase.