Child Support Guidelines

Family Law Attorney Serving Bergen County and Surrounding Areas

In the preliminary stages of a divorce both parties can feel financially anxious and uncertain as they try to figure out child support, alimony and other financial issues. One of the more straight-orward financial issues that must be resolved when minor children are involved consists of determining the amount of child support to be paid to the custodial parent. If you need help in understanding how New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines may apply in your case, you should consult Bergen County child support lawyer Brian D. Iton. He can advise you on your rights and obligations as well as advocate for you in any contested child-related matter that may arise.

Understanding the Impact of the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines

Regardless of the circumstances of a divorce, it is the legal responsibility of both parents to financially support their children, including providing sufficient food, clothing, shelter, education, and medical care until their children reach adulthood. New Jersey’s child support guidelines specifically address the financial obligations of parents upon separation or divorce.

The purpose of the guidelines is to make sure that child support is applied fairly and uniformly. Parents and courts must utilize these guidelines in the vast majority of cases. However, in some special circumstances the guidelines may not apply. For example, the guidelines only cover combined parental net incomes up to $187,200/year. If the parents have a combined net after-tax income exceeding $187,200/year the court may increase the child support award above the guidelines maximum to reflect the “above the guidelines” standard of living to which the children are entitled. Similarly, in extremely low-income situations, and if more than six children are involved deviation may be made from the guidelines.

While the purpose of the guidelines is to make the calculation of child support obligations straightforward, due to potential adjustments for: (1) the other dependent deduction; (2) prior support obligations; (3) tax filing adjustments; (4) the alimony adjustment; (5) adjustments for childcare; (6) medical insurance premium cost adjustments, and (7) overnight adjustments, the calculation of final child support is not necessarily easy. The complete child support guidelines comprise over 100 pages of instructions and charts, and, while many of the terms will not apply to many parents, in some cases, the calculation may be as complicated as filling out a tax return.

The purpose of the guidelines is to allocate each parent’s portion of the total child support obligation. First, each parent must determine his or her gross income. This includes not only employment income but also income from virtually every other possible source, including rents, dividends, royalties, alimony, trust income, commissions, and bonuses. Next, each parent may deduct specified amounts from this number, such as union dues, alimony payments, and prior child support payments.

Then, the costs associated with raising children are taken into account. Some of these costs are “fixed,” such as housing and utilities. Other costs like transportation and food may vary. Still other costs are even more discretionary, such as clothing and entertainment. All “ordinary” expenses associated with raising children are built into the child support formula. While the court may exclude unnecessary costs, there are times when “extra” costs may be considered. For example, while private school tuition and intensive sports, music, or dance lessons may ordinarily be excluded, the court may consider them in calculating support for parents with substantial means (usually parents with a combined net income above $187,000/year).

After the financial data is ascertained, the guidelines help determine the percentage and amount of support that each parent is expected to provide. In the usual case, a custodial parent—that is, the parent with whom the children reside most of the time, and who bears most of the day-to-day responsibilities for their care—will receive a support check from the non-custodial parent.

Discuss Your Child Support Concerns with a Bergen County Lawyer

If you are undergoing a New Jersey divorce in which there are minor children involved, and you need assistance or legal representation in determining your financial obligations, contact Bergen County child support attorney Brian D. Iton for a free consultation. He can explain how New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines are likely to affect your financial situation. Call directly at (201) 731-3086 or toll-free at (844) 431-3380, or use our online contact form to set up a free consultation. Family law attorney Brian D. Iton represents people in Hackensack, Paterson, Newark, Jersey City, and elsewhere in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Passaic Counties.