Child Support Attorney
A couple of years ago, the federal government produced a report entitled “Expenditures on Children by Families.” Upon reviewing 2015 data, the study concluded that the average family would spend over $250,000 to raise just one child. Remarkably, this figure does not even include college expenses. Therefore, it’s no surprise that child support represents a critical issue when parents separate.
Without question, children have a right to economic support from both parents. The essential duty exists whether or not the parents are divorcing or never married. More specifically, the goal is to replicate the same financial provisions experienced by intact families.
Child Support Guidelines
Like many other jurisdictions, the New Jersey courts follow prescribed guidelines in allocating child support payments. NJ Rule 5:6A contains information concerning the formula used in determining the numbers assigned to each parent.
The current Child Support Guidelines evaluate the combined net income of both parents. In addition to establishing the parties’ pooled income, these are some other factors considered in determining allocations for child support:
- Child Care expenses
- Parent of Primary Residence (PPR) Parent of Alternate Residence (PAR)
- Extraordinary Expenses approved by the Court
- Health Insurance Premiums
- Percentage of Parenting time
- Preexisting child support orders from other relationships
- Sole Parenting v. Shared Parenting
- Union Dues
- Unreimbursed Health Care Costs
An experienced family law attorney assists clients with the completion of the appropriate worksheets. Subsequently, the court most often determines total payments in accordance with a Schedule of Child Support Awards. These are then divided according to the allocated percentages.
Deviations from Child Support Guidelines
In the meantime, you should know that New Jersey’s laws allow deviations from the Child Support Guidelines. The court may use its discretion in determining when the guidelines do not appropriately meet the needs of the children.
Extreme income situations are also a consideration when appropriating child support. For example, certain dollar amounts are assessed for families whose net income is below the established poverty level.
By the same token, the current schedule for child support awards uses a $187,500 cap for parents’ net combined income. The court supplements allocations based on high net earning families. Child support will not be less than the maximum amount stated within the guidelines.
Child Support Duration
In addition to determining monetary amounts, it is critical to set the duration of the child support award. Among the factors under consideration are the following:
- Special needs of the child
- Post-secondary or college education
- Child’s emancipation
Parents should not make assumptions concerning the length of child support obligations. Before you make the decision to cut off payments arbitrarily, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney.
Modification and Enforcement
No doubt that most parents would prefer to stay out of court after the initial award for child support. However, in some cases, it becomes necessary to revisit the issue.
Enforcement is a critical problem when it comes to child support. Some payments may be ordered through the county probation department, while others go directly to the parent collecting them. In either instance, there may be issues with non-payment.
In the event that circumstances have changed in some respect, the parties may request a modification of the existing court order. This is also referred to as a post-judgment motion or application.