When a man or father in New Jersey is getting divorced, often one of their concerns is “How much will I have to pay in alimony and child support?” The alimony question can have a complicated answer because it depends on the income of both spouses and is something that is part of the negotiation that goes on during the divorce process.
The question about child support is much easier to answer because New Jersey law provides guidelines for the amount that must be contributed by each parent. The guidelines also come into play when the father and mother are not married but have created a child.
Put briefly, the court uses the combined income of the parents and subtracts the costs involved in raising a child to determine how much child support the non-custodial parent must pay to the parent who has custody of the children.
Calculating Child Support Payments in New Jersey
Because each family is different, the state’s guidelines allow for some flexibility. The primary factors that go into calculating an amount include the number and ages of the children, the income earned by each parent, the number of overnight and holiday stays the child will have with the non-custodial parent, and health care expenses including insurance premiums.
In some instances, adjustments can be made for things like government benefits, whether the child is the beneficiary of a trust left by a relative such as a grandparent, or if the child has any special needs that are known and can be predicted.
The court begins by determining the gross income – both earned and unearned. This includes salary and bonuses, tips, gains from selling property or other assets, dividends, and interest from bank and other accounts. If applicable, a court also takes into consideration Social Security, Veteran’s and worker’s comp benefits, severance pay, and even gambling earnings.
From this total, some things are deducted. This might include taxes, union dues, and some other specific costs that are part of daily living.
The guidelines also include a calculation of how much time the children spend with each parent. So, for instance, if they spend between 28% and 50% of their time with the non-custodial parent over the course of a year, the court is likely to determine support based on the guidelines for shared or co-parenting.
The more time a child spends with the non-custodial parent, the more likely a judge will use the shared parenting calculation.
Other Costs in Setting Child Support Payments for New Jersey Fathers
The guidelines offer the opportunity to include expenses in determining the child support payment that many people don’t think of as we are negotiating their divorce. A few of these could include costs such as uninsured health care expenses, work-related childcare, transportation costs related to visitation if one parent doesn’t reside close to where the kids are living, in unique situations, we can ask the court to approve additional expenses.
After all of these various expenses are approved, they get added to the calculation that becomes part of setting the final amount of child support. It will be allocated in proportion to the income of each parent.
So, the simple question of “How much child support will I need to pay?” has a complex answer with many moving parts and different calculations. The state provides worksheets to help you do the basic math although they can seem as overwhelming as income tax forms.
As the New Jersey family law firm that focuses on men and fathers getting a divorce, we’ve helped lots of dads calculate and pay an appropriate amount of child support of their income and situation. If you have any questions, please call me or one of our experienced family law attorneys for men and fathers in New Jersey. Reach us at either 973.562.0100 in Nutley or, in Montclair, at 862.245.4620. We are here to help you.