NJ Child Support Lawyer

     After it has been determined which parent will have custody of the children, it must be determined how much monetary support will be paid by the non-custodial parent.

Understanding Child Support Guidelines

In New Jersey, child support is based on a complex calculation that takes into consideration the parents’ incomes, how much time each parent spends with the child, and any tax deductions that are available to either parent.  It is a complex process and having an experienced NJ Child Support Attorney, such as Robert Avery by your side, ensures you get the best and most fair result possible for your individual situation. The formula is applied whenever the support of a minor child is to be determined, including in dissolutions (divorces), paternity, and domestic partnership cases. All parents are responsible for and obligated to provide for the welfare of their children.  Supporting children after divorce often leads to disputes between parents.  It is therefore often up to the court to decide the amount of support required.  This is usually done early in the divorce process. 

Below, we explain how New Jersey’s child support guidelines work. 

Purposes of the Guideline

There are two purposes for the guidelines: to provide for a minimum level of child support for a child; and to provide for uniformity in the calculation of child support. To achieve these purposes, state law requires judges to follow the guideline, with deviations allowed only in limited and specified situations.

Underlying Principles

The guideline statute begins by setting forth the principles that courts are to follow in applying the rules. Among those principles are the following:

A parent’s first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s situation and station in life.

Both parents are mutually responsible to support their children.

The guideline is presumed to be correct in all cases, and only under special circumstances should child support orders fall below the child support mandated by the guideline formula.

Child support orders must ensure that children actually receive fair, timely, and sufficient support, which reflects the state’s high standard of living and high costs of raising children compared to other states.

Applying the Guideline

The guideline itself is a very complex algebraic formula that uses the parents' income, deductions, and time spent with the child to come up with a dollar amount for child support. Like many other states, NJChildSupport.org has an online child support calculator you can use to estimate the applicable amount in your case. To determine child support, you must have:

1. The gross incomes of each parent;

2. The percentage of time each child spends with each parent;

3. Any available income tax deductions that the parents can claim, such as mortgage interest mandatory payroll deductions, such as health insurance, pensions, and union dues, and child care costs incurred by either parent.

Once you plug this basic information into the calculator, it will generate an amount.

Keep in mind that the child support calculator porvides a simple and in some ways inaccurate estimate, even so it is a useful tool. 

The actual Court guidelines are contained in an Appendix to the Court Rules, and are in excess of 45 pages long, and can be seen at the New Jersey Judiciary website. A sample Shared Parenting Worksheet, used to calculate Child Support is located at the linked text.

Becasue of the complexity of the rules, most attorneys use a specialized, and expensive, program to calculate child support taking into account all of the factors required by the New Jersey Court Rules.

The lawyers at Avery & Avery, Esqs., can guide you through the maze of Child Support calculations, so that you will receive no less, or pay no more, than the law mandates.

Modifying Child Support

Child support orders are not set in stone forever; they can be modified if where there is a significant change of circumstances.  Recalculation of support is most commonly done in the following circumstances:

  • Your income has gone down, or your ex-spouses income has gone up
  • Your custody time has significantly increased;
  • Your original support calculation was in error;
  • You have more children;
  • Excess healthcare expenses.

Minor changes in income and even loss of employment don’t necessarily mean you can adjust support.  In all cases, you need to consult with a family law attorney to decide if adjument is right for you.  If appropriate, your lawyer will file a motion seeking the modification.

What if I lose my job?

If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may be eligible to drastically reduce or temporarily eliminate your support obligations.  This does not happen automatically however, and you must petition the court for relief.

If you think that your child support order should be reduced (or your spouses raised), you should consult an attorney as soon as possible or you could be losing money every month.

It should be noted that modifications do not affect past payments unless ordered by the Court, which is why its important you don’t delay.

Experience when it matters!

The Family attorneys at Avery & Avery have the know how and experience to guide you and your family through the entire Divorce process.  The divorce process is complicated and multifaceted and should be handled by an expert New Jersey divorce lawyer to ensure the best outcome for your individual needs.  For a free consultation contact us through our Contact Page, or call 201-943-2445.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How is child support paid out, how is it recieved?

Child support is generally collected by the probation department.  It is paid out either by direct deposit, or deposited into a New Jersey Debit MasterCard.  The direct deposit requires you to have a bank and set up the direct deposit where it will automatically go into your account.  The NJ Debit Card program will be as any other debit card except that you do not need a bank account.

What are the tax consequences of recieving child support?

Child support is generally not taxable to the recipient and not tax deductible for the payor.  This is a different case than alimony payments, which are tax deductable for the payor and taxed as income for the spouse recieving the money.

What happens when child support is not paid?

When one parent does not pay their support obligations, you may have an enforcement hearing.  Arrearages can become Judgments against the parent who owes support and can affect their credit rating, and can be used to seize assets or garnish wages.  The debtors income tax refunds may also be intercepted in order to pay support.  Continually disregarding child support obligations may also lead to professional and driver’s license suspensions and even arrest.

What is a COLA review?

Every two years, NJ child support orders are supposed to be reviewed for a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).  This is separate and apart from any modification that might be otherwise needed.  COLA adjustments for Child Support are based upon the average monthly consumer price index (CPI) changes for the NJ Metro area.

What is TANF and how can it help me?

TANF stands for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This is a welfare program established under the New Jersey Department of Human Services.  The TANF program can assist eligible families with cash assistance.  See the following link for a deeper explanation of the TANF program.

What is a Triennial Review?

In NJ litigants in child support cases may request a review of their support orders after a 3 year period.  Parties recieving TANF assistance are required to have this review, even when not requested.  The support order will be modified if appropriate after a review of both parties financial situations.

How long can NJ Child Support orders last?

Many people have the misconception that once a child turns 18, they become an adult and support is no longer mandatory.  While this is the age of majority, this is not necessarily considered an emancipation event.  Parents in NJ can be required to pay child support until the age of 23, and sometimes after, under N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.67.  Children who are attending some sort of school / college or are disabled are the usual candidates for extended support orders.  You can always try to terminate support, and should consult with your child support lawyer to decide if this is appropriate.

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