Parental Income Used for Child Support

Family Law Attorney Serving Bergen County and Surrounding Areas

There are basically three financial components associated with a divorce decree: allocating marital property and debt, calculating the appropriate period and amount of alimony, and apportioning child support obligations. All of these have an important impact on the economic status of the spouses following a divorce. For child support, the law focuses not on the equities between the spouses but on the ongoing needs of the minor children. To make sure that the children of a dissolved marriage receive adequate support, New Jersey has established Child Support Guidelines that are designed to make sure that both parents share responsibility for the financial support of their children until they reach the age of majority. If you need legal advice or representation in a child support matter, (whether you are married or unmarried) contact Bergen County child support lawyer Brian D. Iton. He helps residents of Northern New Jersey understand their legal rights and obligations while vigorously advocating for their interests.

Parental Income Utilized for Child Support

The Child Support Guidelines are intended to make sure that the basic needs of the children are met, to allocate the obligation fairly between the parties, and to enable the children to continue to live, to the extent possible, at the level of comfort to which they became accustomed before their parents’ divorce. To reach these goals, the Guidelines require both parents to input their basic income information into the appropriate guidelines worksheet, which is either the Sole Parenting Worksheet or the Shared Parenting Worksheet.. The ultimate child support obligation derives from the total net income inputted by both parents.

While this sounds relatively straightforward, completing the worksheet correctly requires knowledge and skill. To start, the worksheet requires a determination of both parents combined gross income, from all sources, including: wages and salaries, tips, commissions, bonuses, alimony received, dividends, investment income, unemployment insurance benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, retirement fund distributions, self-employment income, material fringe benefits, and possibly imputed income.

Although specified “means-tested” government benefits are not included as income, the Guidelines include all other sources of income or benefits. The concept is that a portion of all income derived by parents is normally used to cover child-related costs. For example, in a two parent family income from bonuses or commissions would not be kept separate from the marital “pot”. This income would be mixed in with other income and a portion would be spent on child-related expenses. This concept of capturing all income insures that a child of a single parent family receives the same level of support as the child of a two parent family.

As well, if either spouse has income that fluctuates during the year (such as from a seasonal business) or from year-to-year, the court may average the income figure for a given period, up to three years to arrive at an annual income to be used for child support calculation purposes.

Similar to a tax return, once the gross income is determined, the parents are then permitted certain types of adjustments and deductions from that figure in order to calculate the amount of money that is available for child support. These include pre-existing child support or alimony payment obligations, mandatory union dues or fees, mandatory retirement contributions, and adjustments for health care and childcare expenses paid by one parent on behalf of the child.

In addition, the Guidelines account for the taxation of gross income to arrive at a net income figure. Once the total net income figure is determined, a specified portion of that figure is determined to be the amount of the total child support obligation. How that support obligation is allocated between the two parents is determined based on the parents respective incomes and the custody and parenting time arrangements that the parties have set up for the children.

While the Guidelines cover roughly 90% of all child support cases, the court will depart from their requirements when the parents’ combined net annual income exceeds $187,000. In these high-income cases, the court anticipates that more discretionary income will be expended for the benefit of the children, beyond their basic needs.

Discuss Your Child Support Matter with Bergen County Lawyer Brian D. Iton

Although New Jersey provides detailed guidelines and a worksheet to help parents determine their child support obligations, determining the amount of your obligation requires knowledge and experience, particularly if you have an unusual income situation. If you have questions or need assistance in determining which sources of income will be considered by a court in determining child support, call Bergen County child support attorney Brian D. Iton at (201) 731-3086 or toll-free at (844) 431-3380, or use the contact form on this website to set up a free consultation. Mr. Iton represents New Jersey residents who need a family law attorney in Hackensack, Paterson, Newark, Jersey City, and other cities in Bergen, Hudson, Essex, and Passaic Counties.