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Child Support Law

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How to Calculate Child Support in New Jersey

New Jersey law states that both parents must make contributions to ensure a child has food, clothing and a home. To ensure that these needs are met, the parent that does not have physical custody will typically be ordered to pay child support. New Jersey child support is determined on a variety of factors, including the income of both parents and the amount of money spent on a child when the family was intact.

After February 2017, support payments will last until the child reaches the age of 19. Under certain circumstances (typically a special needs child) could call for payments to be made until the child turns 23.

There are two ways to obtain child support: through the court or through an arrangement made between parents. When parents make an amenable arrangement, they can determine the child support amounts. New Jersey courts, however, generally rely on a formula to determine court-ordered child support payments.

Determining Income and Payment Obligations

In general, support is calculated based on taking the amount of money that both parents make and figuring out how much people in their financial situation would spend on raising a child. This obligation is then divided based on each person's income and how much time is spent with a child. Other obligations and payments towards a child's care may also factor into determining how much child support someone may be ordered to pay.

The income of a parent includes just about all wages, bonuses, income from the sale of investments, gambling winnings, severance pay and unemployment payments. There is some income that may not be counted towards this total, such as financial assistance for education, child support received for children from another relationship and household income from individuals not responsible for the child's care. Child support costs that a court may order include costs for healthcare, food, housing, clothing, transportation and other needs.

The amount of money expected to be spent on a child is pulled from the Schedule of Child Support Awards table in Appendix IX-F. This amount is split between the paying and the non-paying parent, but there are a few more points that may factor into determining the final child support payment amount.

To determine the total amount of support that someone will pay, the court may take into consideration the costs that the paying parent may face due to caring for other children from previous relationships and spousal support obligations. New Jersey child support laws may also factor in money paid towards providing insurance for a child.

The court often determines payment obligations based on how much time a non-custodial parent spends with a child. The more overnights a child spends with a non-custodial parent, the lower child support payments can be.

It is important to note that these are just guidelines, and judges often have a fair amount of discretion when ordering child support and child support payment amounts.

Child Support Modifications

Once child support has been ordered, the amount is not set in stone. People may be able to petition to have the paying parent's obligation increased, or the paying parent may request that the court reduce the amount of child support they must pay. If someone is requesting a child support modification in New Jersey, they must first fill out an application that explains their request and the reasons for their request.

While someone may end up getting a day in court to argue their case to a judge, it does not mean that they will be able to obtain the support adjustment they are looking for. The court specifically requires a permanent, substantial or unforeseeable change in someone's circumstances.

Examples of changed circumstances that might meet the court's requirements would be an injury that leaves the paying parent disabled and unable to work or if the paying parent came into a large sum of money. If the court believes the modification should be granted, child support payment obligations will be recalculated based on the new circumstances.