Understanding New Jersey Child Support Guidelines

By Peter Van Aulen, Esq.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE NJ CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES

The philosophy behind the New Jersey child support guidelines as stated in the appendix to said guidelines is as follows:

  • Child support is the constant duty of both parents.
  • A child has a right to share the current income of both parents.
  • A child should not be a casualty of an out of wedlock birth or a divorce.

NJ child support guidelines attempt to simulate the percentage of parental net income that is expended on children in intact families. Even though the appendix to the guidelines acknowledges that expenditures of two households that are separated or divorced are different than an intact family unit, it states that children should not be forced to live in poverty because of a family interruption and should be given the same opportunities as intact families with similar financial means.

WHEN ARE THE NJ CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES USED?

In New Jersey, the child support guidelines must be used by the Courts as a rebuttable presumption to create and adjust child support orders. Therefore, a child support award based on the guidelines is assumed to be correct unless a party proves to a Court that the use of the guidelines is inappropriate.

EXPENSES INCLUDED IN THE CHILD SUPPORT

The below expenses are included in child support. In other words, the parent who is receiving child support (payee parent) is expected to pay the following expenses from the child support that is paid to them by the paying parent (payer parent):

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Transportation
  • Unreimbursed health care up to and including $250 per child per year
  • Entertainment
  • Miscellaneous Items
EXPENSES THAT MAY BE ADDED TO CHILD SUPPORT

The below expenses, if incurred, will be added to the basic child support obligation. Therefore, in addition to paying the basic child support according to the guidelines, the Payer parent will have to contribute to the following expenses:

  • Work-related child care.
  • Health insurance for the child.
  • Predictable and recurring unreimbursed health care expenses in excess of $250.00 per year per child.
  • Other expenses approved by the Court.
ADJUSTMENTS TO THE PAYOR SUPPORT OBLIGATION

The following factors may require an adjustment (often a reduction) to the payer parent’s basic child support obligation:

  • Other legal dependants: For example, if a payer parent has other children from another relationship that could cause a reduction in his or her child support obligation.
  • Child support orders for other children: For example, if the payer parent has a child support order for a child in another relationship that would cause a reduction in his or her child support obligation.
  • Social Security benefits paid to or for the child: A child‘s Social Security benefits greatly reduce or eliminate a payer parent’s child support obligation.
  • Adjustments for overnight parenting time: the more overnight parenting time a payer parent has, the more of a reduction in their child support obligation. If the non-custodial parent has the children less than 28% of the time(less than 104 overnights), the Court uses a sole parenting worksheet to calculate a child support obligation. On the other hand, if the non custodial parent has the children over 28% of the time (more than 104 overnights), the Court uses the shared parenting worksheet which will cause a greater reduction in a payer parent’s child support obligation.
HIGHER INCOME FAMILIES

For families with combined incomes of $187,200 per year the Court will apply the guidelines up to $187,200 of income and then the Court may supplement the guideline award with a discretionary amount to make sure the children are being supported in accordance with the parties’ financial circumstances. If you have any questions concerning the NJ child support guidelines, please contact Peter Van Aulen today at (201) 845-7400.

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