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How Child Support is Calculated in New Jersey

Published: Feb 20, 2017 in Family Law

If you are and your spouse are separating or you are expecting a child while unmarried, you must consider child support. Depending on the circumstances, you may expect to raise the child alone and will need financial assistance or you may anticipate having visitation with your child and needing to pay support. Whether you presume you will be a custodial or non-custodial parent in New Jersey, you should speak with a Jersey City child support lawyer about how child support is calculated. The experienced attorneys at Bhatt Law Group can tell you want lies ahead and help you gain custody or parenting time with your child.

Call us today at (201) 798-8000 to schedule a free consultation.

A Shared Income Model

Under New Jersey law, both parents must financially support their children. If a child’s parents were married, the parents would naturally combine their incomes and resources to take care of the child’s needs. New Jersey law attempts to mimic the same result through child support. The court uses the parents’ combined net incomes to determine how much support the non-custodial parent should pay to the custodial parent. The custodial parent is the mother or father who has physical custody of the child. It is the parent with whom the child resides full time or a majority of the time. The non-custodial parent does not have physical custody, but may have parenting time, previously known as visitation.

Defining Net Income

Since child support is based on the parents’ combined net incomes, it is crucial each parent understands how their net income will be calculated. This is defined in New Jersey’s child support guidelines Appendix IX-B. The court first determines gross income, which includes all earned and unearned income that is recurring or will raise the individual’s income over a period of time. In general, gross income includes regular compensation, tips, bonuses, gains from a business, gains from selling property, interest and dividends, received alimony or maintenance, Social Security or Veteran’s Administration income, disability payments, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, severance pay, and gambling winnings. Net income is then determined by subtracting certain payments and duties like taxes, alimony, child support, and union dues from gross income.

This is a broad explanation of how New Jersey’s child support guidelines calculate parents’ combined net income. Parents can use the appropriate worksheet to do the math or, better yet, work with an experienced Jersey City child support lawyer. An attorney ensures all of the proper compensation is included or appropriately excluded from the income calculations, providing a parent with an accurate estimate of the child support they will pay or receive.

Calculating Child Support in New Jersey

If a child resides with the custodial parent 100 percent of the time, the award is defined under Appendix IX-F and the sole parenting worksheet Appendix IX-C. All awards take into account the average amount families with both parents spend on their kids. This includes shared expenses like housing, transportation, healthcare, clothing, food, and transportation amounting up to $250 per year. The calculation under Appendix IX-F then determines the amount of support due based on the parents’ combined net weekly incomes and the number of children in the family. For example, for parents with a combined net weekly income of $500 and one child, the non-custodial parent will pay the custodial parent $137 per week. A child support award under Appendix IX-F is not automatically adjusted for visitation with the other parent, though it can be.

Many custody situations for divorced or unmarried parents include the child spending time with both parents. If a child spends at least 28 percent and up to 50 percent of their nights with the non-custodial parent throughout the year, then the court may calculate support based on the shared parenting worksheet, Appendix IX-D. While 28 percent or 105 nights per year can trigger a shared parenting calculation, there is a level of discretion for the courts. For this division of parent time, a judge may calculate support based on the sole parenting worksheet and then adjust for visitation or they may use the shared parenting worksheet. The more time the child spends with the non-custodial parent, the more likely the judge is to use shared parenting calculations.

Additional Expenses

New Jersey’s child support guidelines consider basic expenses for a child, but recognize that a family may experience other additional expenses that need to be taken into consideration. Predictable recurring expenses like work-related child care, health insurance, additional unreimbursed health care, visitation transportation, and other special needs can be added to the child support calculations upon court approval. Once these expenses are approved they will be added to the calculation prior to the final amount being determined and will be allocated in proportion to the parent’s incomes.

Contact Our Jersey City Child Support Lawyers Today

At Bhatt Law Group, our family law attorneys have years of experience helping parents work out custody, visitation, and child support issues. We can guide you through New Jersey’s complex child support guidelines, helping you anticipate what you will owe the other parent or what you may receive. If your child has special needs and you believe the amount will need to be adjusted, we can help you achieve this in court.

Call us today at (201) 798-8000 to schedule a free initial consultation.