New Jersey’s child support calculations differ for low and high income families. The rules for high income families can be seen in the case: Strahan v Strahan, 953 A. 2d 1219 – NJ: Appellate Div. 2008.
The case involved the parents of two twin girls who were born while the couple was married.
Under New Jersey state law, when income exceeds $187,200, the court can award supplementary awards based on the excess income.
The case involved a high-profile NFL player: Michael Strahan.
Strahan married Jean Muggli in 1999, and the two divorced in 2006. In 2007, a judge awarded Muggli with a $15 million divorce settlement. The basis of the settlement was that her daughters liked to be accessorized at the young age of 20 months, and she justified her spending of $27,000 on clothes and $22,500 on photo shoots.
An appeal was filed. When the divorce was filed, Strahan had assets of $22 million, which would be cut in more than half following the settlement. The court ordered that the couple’s $3.6 million mansion be sold and the money be split evenly among the two parties.
The child support and supplemental award was decided separately.
The initial court found that base support for the children per year was $35,985. The supplemental support for the children was found to be $200,000. This led to the appeal of 2008.
The ruling was overturned in the Appellate Court and found that the previous court awarded the additional $200,000 inadequately. The trial court didn’t have adequate means for the additional income, and the ruling was found to be unreasonable.
What Can We Learn from This Case?
High income child support comes with complications. The case of Strahan v Strahan demonstrates arbitrary rulings that didn’t consider the children’s needs adequately. The mother of the children was already granted a large settlement, and the needs of the children at the time weren’t represented properly.
High income families in New Jersey will need to pay a percentage of their income to child support, but they also face the additional hardship of supplemental support, which is often erroneous or unfair.
Child support, under New Jersey state law, is based on ten main factors:
- Needs of the child;
- Standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent;
- All sources of income and assets of each parent;
- Earning ability of each parent, including educational background, training, employment skills, the length of time and cost of each parent to obtain training or experience for appropriate employment, and work experience. Custodial responsibility for children is also considered, including the cost of providing child care;
- Need and capacity of the child for education, including higher education;
- Age and health of the child and each parent;
- Income, assets and earning ability of the child;
- Responsibility of the parents for the court-ordered support of others;
- Reasonable debts and liabilities of each child and parent; and
- Any other factors the court may deem relevant.
Low and high income families will have child support decided upon these factors.
Enforcement of Child Support Orders
The payee can appeal a child support order if the order exceeds a fair figure. In the case above, we saw that even the rich appeal decisions that grant far too much money to the payee unjustly.
Enforcing child support orders is best done under the New Jersey Probation Department.
The payee (the spouse receiving payment) has the option to have all child support orders enforced by the agency. This will ensure that the parent is rightfully paid the child support that was ordered.
The payer, or spouse that is required to pay child support, will benefit from this arrangement, as a paper trail of all payments will be made. This acts as a record of proof that all payments have been made on time.
Ignoring child support obligations can lead to enforcement by the agency, which can include:
- Garnishing wages
- Assessing property liens
- Issuance of a bench warrant
- Suspension of a driver’s license
- Seizure of lottery winnings over $600
The agency is available to low and high income families to enforce any child support order.
A lawyer can help you fight against unjustified child support orders for the payee or payer. When it comes to complex divorces where higher wealth and assets are considered, it’s best to seek the help of an experienced attorney.