“G” Is For New Jersey Child Support Guidelines
New Jersey Child Support Guidelines
In New Jersey, child support is typically fixed through an application of the New Jersey child support guidelines that are set forth in our court rules. The guidelines apply to families having a combined joint net income of $3,600 per week ($187,200 per year). In circumstances where the combined net income exceed $3,600 per week, the guidelines are applied to the maximum income and additional child support is awarded from the income that exceeds the guidelines in accordance with numerous factors, the most relevant of which is the present and projected needs of the child. The guidelines reflect the philosophy that a child of divorced or separated parents should have a comparable lifestyle to that of a child in an intact family. The guidelines are predicated upon economic data that reflects the spending patterns of an intact family and apply only to net income up to $3,600 per week because there is not sufficient economic data to support awards above this amount.
Virtually all income received by a parent is included in the gross income for child support purposes. If a parent is involuntarily unemployed or underemployed, income may be imputed to that parent in accordance with his or her earning capacity. Alimony received from the other parent is added to the recipient’s income and deducted from the other parent’s income. Each parent’s gross income is reduced by all taxes payable on that income, mandatory retirement payments and mandatory union dues to reach combined family net income. There may also be a reduction in a parent’s net income for child support obligations to children of other families.
The child support for each net income level up to $3,600 per week is set forth in the court rules and is dependent upon the number of children the guidelines cover. The amount of support does not increase an equal amount with each additional child. Because of the economies of scale, the support for two or more children is not a multiple of the support for one child.
The amount of a child support award is adjusted for the parenting time that the payor parent spends with the child. If that parent spends 104 or more overnights with the child per year, the payor parent qualifies for a shared parenting worksheet. In this circumstance, a credit is given against the child support award for the payor parent’s anticipated fixed expenses. Even if a parent does not spend 104 overnights with the child, there is some adjustment in the child support that is reflective of the amount of overnights that the child spends with this parent. In equal custody situations, and additional adjustment is made to the child support to reflect the direct expenses that the payor parent incurs in his or her household.
Guideline child support is intended to cover virtually all expenses incurred for raising the child, including housing, food, clothing and footwear (except special footwear for sports), jewelry, transportation (except expenses associated with a motor vehicle purchased or leased for the child), entertainment, sports, lessons and personal care products. The cost of healthcare insurance and unreimbursed healthcare expenses (over $250 per child per year), reoccurring extraordinary expenses and child care (including day camp) are not included under the guidelines and are typically paid in proportion to the parents’ respective net incomes. The parent receiving child support is responsible for the first $250 per child per year of unreimbursed healthcare expenses. The cost of healthcare insurance is reflected in the cash child support amount. The other expenses which are outside of the guidelines are typically handled separately.
The parties can depart from the guidelines in special circumstances. In such instances, the reason for the departure must be stated. The guidelines do not include private or parochial school expenses. The guidelines also do not apply to a child residing away from home at college. In this circumstance, child support is fixed separately and is primarily dependent upon the income of the parties, the expenses of the child and, to some extent, the earnings of the child.
As there are various nuisances associated with the incorporation of a child support award that complies with the New Jersey child support guidelines or requires an analysis that deviates from a guideline calculation, it is important to retain experienced counsel to assist you with the process. The attorneys at Ulrichsen Rosen and Freed have negotiated many complex child support awards and will be happy to assist you in securing the same.