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New Jersey Divorce: Childcare and Child Support

Across the United States, all states have established child support guidelines to be used in divorce and paternity cases. Child support guidelines in New Jersey are crafted around the theory that children are entitled to benefit from or partake in the income generated by the parents. Moreover, children in New Jersey should not financially suffer when their parents elect to get divorce. There are certain factors that can impact the amount of child support paid in a particular situation. One area involves childcare and child support

Basic New Jersey Child Support Guideline Obligation

Before diving deeper into the matter of childcare and child support, understanding the basics of how a child support obligation is formulated by a court in New Jersey is helpful. In New Jersey, what is oftentimes referred to as the income shares method is utilized when computing a base child support obligation.

Pursuant to the income shares method, a percentage of the total income generated or earned by both parents is utilized as the starting point for ascertaining the among of money that will be paid in child support. The calculation begins with adding together the gross income of both parents. (As a reminder, gross income represents salary or wages before taxes.)

An example helps to illustrate the operation of the income shares method:

Parent A earns $80,000 annually
Parent B earns $120,000 annually

The combined gross income of the parents is $200,000 a year

Parent A is the primary custodial parent of the child born during the marriage
Parent B is the noncustodial parent who has parenting time with the child on a regular basis

The income shares method establishes a base child support obligation based on the percentage of gross income of the parents that is earned by Parent B, of the noncustodial parent. Parent B earns 60 percent of the gross income. Consequently, Parent B would have a presumed child support obligation of 60 percent of the guideline dollar amount for parents jointly earning $200,000 a year.

Childcare and Child Support Obligation Adjustment

If childcare is a necessity, paying for that service is an obligation of both parents. On the surface, a person might reason that childcare is the responsibility of a custodial parent that elects to work outside of the home. Such a view fails to take into account the fact that the noncustodial parent is also likely working outside of the home.

In other words, both parents have the right to be employed. As a consequence, there will be situations in which legitimate, reasonable work obligations prevent both parents from being available to provide care for a child or children. For these reasons, a childcare obligation is divided between the parents and can result in upping the dollar amount associated with child support.

Other Factors that can Result in a Child Support Guideline Deviation

Beyond childcare and child support, other issues can impact the amount of money a noncustodial parent may end up being obliged to pay in support for a child or children. Some of the more commonplace matters that may warrant a child support guideline deviation in New Jersey include:

  • Unreimbursed medical expenses (including dental and psychological expenses) incurred on behalf of a child by one parent or another
  • Private or parochial school tuition for a child
  • Special needs for either a child with disabilities or a child identified as “gifted”
  • Age of a child
  • Parent having a previously existing child support obligation from a preexisting family unit
Agreement Between Parents Regarding Childcare Expenses

Parents can agree between themselves how a childcare obligation will be addressed. Parents can agree to alter an existing child support order or agreement to accommodate the costs of childcare. Although parents can reach an agreement in this manner, that accord must be approved by the court and incorporated into an amended child support order.

If you have questions about childcare and child support, or any other issue associated with divorce, telephone us at (201) 845-7400.

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