One of the most important ways that family court and divorces affect children is by setting a child support payment. One of the most highly contentious and often complicated issues is determining an appropriate child support amount. Overall, the payment of child support in New Jersey, as defined in its Custody Laws, reflects the ongoing responsibility of parents to support their children. Specifically, child support payments must be made until such time that a child is emancipated, joins the military, enters into college, dies, or at the order of a New Jersey Family Court. In general, the amount that is owed to satisfy parents’ child support obligations is based upon the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, found in Appendix IX of the New Jersey Court Rules. Keep in mind that these guidelines attempt to apportion the costs of raising a child between two parents, not just one as in many other jurisdictions.
In light of the above, sometimes trying to determine an appropriate child support amount can be rather complicated. That is why our team of seasoned New Jersey family law attorneys have put together the following list of tips for calculating child support. These are as follows:
- Consider all of your income sources. According the guidelines, there are many types of income that must be considered when calculating child support. This includes overtime wages, lottery winnings, and unemployment benefits.
- Understand your taxes and deductions. The guidelines provide that you are only allowed a certain number of deductions from your income when determining child support, such as for Social Security, Medicare and state taxes. After all applicable taxes and deductions have been determined, you will have each parent’s net income, which is used in part to determine an appropriate child support amount.
- Determine you and your spouse’s combined net income. After you consider all of your taxes, deductions as well as gross incomes, combine both your respective incomes together once these numbers are all accounted for.
- Splitting up the child support award. Should both parents have roughly the same incomes, they can split it equally. However, when one parent earns more than the other, it can be split 70/30 or 60/40, depending upon the level of income disparity.
- Consider visitation and shared parenting time. Keep in mind when filling out the child support form, adjustments can be made for the amount of time the kids spend with each parent.
- Don’t forget about add-on expenses and special deductions. If your family has such expenses as child car, health insurance for children, these can be added to the final child support award and split between two parents.
- Income levels and shared parenting income tests. Child support payments in New Jersey should never leave someone in the poorhouse, so to speak. That is why there are guidelines to help prevent a person from having to pay too much. Hence, if you are truly having monetary retrains, the guidelines may account for that.
- For additional information, you can use the online New Jersey Child Support Calculator. You can also visit the New Jersey Court website for all applicable New Jersey Court Forms to guide you through the process of determining child support as well as help inform you on the other matters that may be affecting your case.