Many fathers who are getting divorced in New Jersey expect to pay child support, but few are aware of how it is calculated and what it is intended to be used for. In fact, most people have very little understanding of what support covers and how the child support system is designed. If you’re a New Jersey dad who is divorced or divorcing, it’s important to understand the basics of child support so you know what to look out for if your payments seem unusually high or aren’t being used to care for your child.
How Child Support Is Calculated
Courts will consider a variety of factors when calculating child support. A child’s basic needs will be considered first and foremost, but the court will also take into account the parent’s ability to pay and income. While things like child custody have more flexibility, most courts determine child support using a universal set of guidelines based on the number of children who need support and the income of the paying parent. Another factor is the custody split; if the higher-earning parent has the child the majority of the time, they may not need child support from the other parent – however, a court can still order the non-custodial parent to pay.
Once payments have been calculated, the courts will not require the custodial parent to prove that child support payments are being put towards certain activities, unless the child’s needs aren’t being met. The parent with physical custody is given the benefit of the doubt that they are paying the necessary expenses to raise and support the child, and their spending habits do not need to be monitored. Sometimes, however, a father in New Jersey realizes his ex isn’t using the money appropriately and decides to bring this matter up in court.
Using Child Support to Care for the Child
Child support payments can be put towards just about any expense related to the child. This includes:
- Medical Care: Most states will require at least one parent to carry health insurance for the child, and child support may be put towards these costs. It may also be put towards the cost of extraordinary medical expenses, like out-of-pocket costs, deductibles and surgeries.
- Childcare: Support may be put towards childcare costs such as daycare, nannies and babysitters.
- Educational Costs: Even if the child is attending public school, there are still costs associated with education. Support may be used for school clothes and supplies, lunch money, tutoring, private school tuition, school trips, and other related costs.
- Extracurricular Activities: Payments may be put towards extracurricular activities, such as sports, after-school programs, clubs, summer camp, and other activities not related to school.
- General Household Needs: If the child is primarily living with one parent, there will be higher grocery and utility bills, the cost of gas to bring the child to school and extracurriculars, and the need for general household supplies. The parent receiving the support is trusted to address these needs however they see fit, since they vary from home to home.
Child support is designed to provide children with adequate support after a couple divorces. The custodial parent takes on the responsibility of raising a child and the expenses that go along with it, but the non-custodial parent must contribute to ensure that all of the child’s needs are met. The way in which child support is calculated will vary from state to state, so check with your local guidelines to get an idea of what the costs may be.
If you feel you have been ordered to pay monthly child support you can’t afford, or if your ex isn’t using your child support payments appropriately, work with The Micklin Law Group’s child support attorneys in New Jersey to fight for fairness. Contact our team to get started.