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Child Support and Costs

child supportChild Support and Costs

Child support is meant strictly for expenses related to the child. Child support in New Jersey can be determined in one of two ways depending upon the combined income of the parents.

If the combined after-tax income of the parents is less than or equal to $187,200 per year, then the case is determined pursuant to the New Jersey State Child Support Guidelines. If the combined after-tax income of the parents is more than $187,200 per year, then the New Jersey statutory factors are applied to determine child support. 

The New Jersey State Child Support Guidelines

In cases in which the combined after-tax income of the parents is equal to or less than $187,200 per year, child support is determined by the use of “the Guidelines” which is a program that allows the user to input a number of factors applicable to the case, after which the amount of support is posted.

The most common factors are: the number of children; the number of overnights each child is with each of the parents; the ages of the children; the amount of gross and after-tax income of each parent; the amount of alimony being paid by one parent to the other parent, if any; and the amount of the medical insurance premium being paid for the children’s medical insurance and which parent is paying those costs.

The Guidelines amount of child support is presumptively the correct amount of child support, although in rare cases, a Court may deviate from the Guidelines. If the Court does deviate from the Guidelines, it must explain their reasons on the record. 

New Jersey Statutory Factors

In cases in which the net combined income of the parents is more than $301,000 per year, the amount of child support is determined by applying the following factors: 

  • The needs of the child
  • The standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent
  • All sources of income for each parent
  • The assets of each parent, or the earning ability of each parent
  • The child’s need and capacity for further education, including higher education
  • The age and health of the child
  • The age and health of each parent, and the income or assets of the child, and the responsibility of either parent for other Court ordered support
  • The reasonable debts of either party
  • In order to modify a child support order or agreement, there must be a significant change in circumstances as to either one  of the parents or the child. If circumstances change, then a court order or a mutual agreement between the parents can  change the original amount of child support. The most common examples include when a parent suffers a loss in income or if a child’s needs change. Child support modification will not be granted, however, if the changes are only temporary, or if they are going to happen in the future but have not taken place yet.  
  • In the event that a parent does not pay a child support order or agreement, then the most common enforcement options are: wage garnishments; arrest warrants (if the arrears amount is substantial); loss of drivers license; and loss of tax refunds. 
  • Child support is paid until a child is emancipated. The question as to when a child is emancipated is fact-sensitive.  “Emancipation” is legally defined as the point in time when the child has moved beyond the “sphere of influence” of his or her parents. Emancipation can be established in many different ways, including: (1) the child’s marriage; (2) enlistment into military service; (3) by a court order based on the best interests of the child; and (4) reaching the age of majority subject to a few exceptions such as the disability of child.   

College and Other Post High School Course of Study 

Unlike other states, New Jersey imposes an obligation on both parents to contribute to college and other post high school courses of study. The baseline inquiry by all courts being asked to decide these cases are the following factors: 

  • whether the parent would have contributed toward the costs of the requested higher education if they still lived together 
  • the background values and goals of the parent and the reasonableness of the expectation that the child attain higher education 
  • the amount sought by the child for the cost of higher education 
  • the ability of the parent to pay that cost 
  • the relationship of the requested contribution to the kind of school or course of study sought by the child 
  • the financial resources of both parents 
  • the commitment to and aptitude of the child for the requested education 
  • the financial resources of the child, including assets owned individually or held in custodianship or trust 
  • the ability of the child to earn income during the school year or on vacation 
  • the availability of financial aid in the form of college grants and loans 
  • the child’s relationship to the paying parent, including mutual affection and shared goals as well as responsiveness to parental advice and guidance
  • the relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child

If the parties cannot agree on how to divide the cost of a child’s post-high school course of study, Courts will often hold hearings to make that decision at their request.

In cases in which the parents become divorced when the children are younger, many Marital Settlements Agreements will address the issue in the Agreement to avoid litigation down the road. Some Agreements will address the issue in detail, while other Agreements will address it with more general language. This will usually depend upon how close the children are to graduating from high school when the divorce occurs. 

In some cases, parents in New Jersey are also called upon to contribute towards the cost of graduate school for their children however Courts will only consider such a  request in the event that one or both parents themselves have a graduate school degree.

South Jersey Child Support Lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. Have the Experience to Help You Through Various, Complex Family Law Issues

Family law issues can be difficult and emotional, but our South Jersey child support lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. are on your side and will protect your rights. Call us at 856-890-9400 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation today and to learn more about how we can help you. Located in Marlton, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, and Gloucester County.