The amount of child support that a noncustodial parent pays to a custodial parent is typically based on the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. The purpose of the Guidelines is to split the cost of raising children from birth to age 18 fairly between parents — keeping in mind that “fairly” does not necessarily mean “equally.” These Guidelines are based on the premise that the financial support of children is the duty of both parents, and that no child should be an economic victim of their parents.
In determining child support, the Court generally follows the Guidelines to determine how much money it will take to raise a child depending on that child’s age and the parents’ income. The Guidelines also take into consideration the costs for work-related childcare, health insurance for the child, and the number of time each parent spends with the child. The Court can also approve expenses that may be added to the basic child support obligation if special circumstances apply, such as:
- The child has special needs or is gifted
- The household has more than six children
- Educational costs
- Predictable and recurring unreimbursed medical expenses for the child in excess of $250 per year
The Court may modify the guidelines or disregard the guidelines only when good cause is shown or otherwise provided in Appendix IX-A. For example, adjustments can be made if either parent has a child of another relationship or if the parties have a high net income. If the income of both parents exceeds $187,200 ($3,600/week), the Guidelines specify that $3,600/week should be used as the minimum income level, with the Court then adding a discretionary amount based on a number of factors, including but not limited to:
- Needs of the child
- Standard of living for each parent
- Total assets and income of each parent
- Each parent’s earning ability
- Who has custodial responsibility for the child
- The educational needs of the child
- Age and health of the child and each parent
- Total assets, income and earning ability of the child
- Other court-ordered support responsibilities of either parent
- Total debts and liabilities of each parent and child
The Guidelines presume that the child lives in just one household; however, if parenting is being shared — which is defined as the child spending at least 104 nights per year in the non-custodial parent’s home — the Court will determine child support based on the Shared Parenting Guidelines.
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