What Impact Does Alimony Have on Child Support?
When a couple goes through a divorce, the process of reaching a settlement can be complicated, particularly when there are children involved. There are a range of important financial issues that must be resolved, including the division of marital assets, alimony and child support. While one spouse may be responsible for paying alimony to the other spouse, both parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support for their children following the divorce.
The goal of child support is to ensure that the children are financially supported in such a way that they are able to maintain the same degree of comfort and stability after the divorce as they did prior to the divorce. However, it is important to understand that alimony costs can have a direct impact on child support payments. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you contact a highly skilled divorce lawyer who will walk you through the divorce process, including the impact that alimony may have on child support payments.
What Is Alimony?
Oftentimes, when a couple divorces, one spouse is responsible for providing financial support to the other spouse in the form of alimony or spousal support. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences from a legal perspective. While spousal support is meant to help a spouse transition through this difficult time by providing temporary financial assistance, alimony is a series of court-ordered payments that one spouse must make to the other. The amount of the alimony payments is based on the income of both spouses, how long the marriage lasted and the contributions that each spouse made to the marriage. Once a decision has been made about alimony, payments must be made in a consistent and timely manner. The failure to make alimony payments could result in legal consequences, including fines and even jail time.
How Does Alimony Affect Child Support Payments?
In New Jersey, both parents have a legal responsibility to financially support their children after a divorce. That means ensuring that their basic needs are met, including food, clothing, medical care and a safe place to live. However, that is considered the bare minimum when it comes to financial obligations that both parents are expected to meet. There are a range of other costs to consider, including sports and other activities, vacations, summer camps and entertainment. In addition, if the child has any special needs, there will likely be additional expenses that will need to be factored in. Child support payments are based on the total combined income of the parents
In order to determine child support payments, the court will start with the total combined income of both parents. Then, they will determine the amount that each parent would contribute to financially support their children if the marriage lasted. Finally, the court will divide that amount proportionally between the two parents. This is where alimony can have an impact on child support payments. The child support calculation is based on the adjusted income of both parents. However, this incorporates the earnings of both parents, as well as any pre-existing alimony or child support obligations that either parent is responsible for paying. It also incorporates new alimony obligations that are imposed as part of the divorce agreement. As a result, if one parent is paying alimony to the other parent, that amount will be deducted from his or her income. Ultimately, the more a spouse pays towards alimony, the less he or she may be obligated to pay towards child support.
How Are Alimony Payments Calculated?
There are a number of different types of alimony that may be ordered in the New Jersey court system. For example, “Limited Duration alimony” is for a specified period of time, based on the amount of time that you were married. “Rehabilitative Alimony” is also ordered for a defined period of time, which allows the other spouse to learn a new skill that will enable him or her to secure a job and work towards becoming financially independent. “Reimbursement Alimony” may be awarded if you supported your spouse financially while he or she finished school. For example, if you covered the cost of rent or your mortgage while your spouse attended graduate school, and you decided to divorce before your spouse started earning a steady income, he or she will likely be ordered to reimburse you for a portion of those expenses. Finally, an “Open Duration Alimony” is awarded if the marriage lasts longer than 20 years, or the spouse receiving alimony has a disability.
How Are Child Support Payments Determined?
The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines are a collection of formulas that are used to calculate child support payments. The process involves completing the following eight steps:
- Determining the fair income of both parents. All types of income are considered when calculating child support, including overtime, lottery winnings and unemployment benefits. Welfare benefits or compensation provided to disabled people are not factored into the equation.
- Considering taxes and deductions. Only certain deductions are allowed and the Court will make that determination.
- Adding the combined net income of both parents. The money that each parent is left with after taxes and deductions is added together, and the basic child support award will be determined based on the Guidelines chart and the number of children in the family.
- Splitting the child support award. The basic child support award will be split based on the income of each parent. For example, if both parents earn the same net income, the child support award will be split 50/50. In most cases, however, one parent earns more than the other, and the child support award will reflect that.
- Determining visitation and shared parenting adjustments. If the parents can demonstrate the number of days that they each spend with their children, the parent who pays the support may be eligible for a deduction, depending on the amount of time he or she spends with the kids and the amount of money both parents have.
- Identifying additional expenses and special deductions. Certain costs and expenses, like childcare and health insurance are added to the basic support amount and split between the two parents.
- Poverty and shared-parenting income tests. The Guidelines have special provisions that ensure that child support payments do not impose too much of a financial strain on parents who may be struggling to make ends meet. However, the children are always the top priority, so the Guidelines ensure that the parent who has custody of the children for the majority of the time gets enough money to provide for them.
- Final support order. According to the law, once these steps have been completed, the amount remaining is the legal amount of child support. If the parents, the lawyers or the Court feel that another amount should be awarded, they must provide a special reason why the calculated amount should not be used.
Marlton Divorce Lawyers at Goldstein & Mignonga, P.A. Assist Clients with All Aspects of the Divorce Process
If you are going through a divorce, and you have children, contact our experienced Marlton divorce lawyers at Goldstein & Mignonga, P.A. at your earliest convenience. We will address all of your questions and concerns about alimony and child support, and ensure that you reach the best possible settlement outcome. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 856-890-9400 or contact us online. Our offices are located in Marlton, New Jersey, where we proudly service clients in Marlton, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and throughout South Jersey.