Calculating how much child support you may have to pay can become complicated because there are many factors that are taken into consideration. As set forth in the New Jersey child support guidelines found in , the child support guidelines apply to situations where the combined net annual income of the parents is $187,200.00 per year or less. However, if parents have a combined net annual income in excess of $187,200 per year, the courts must apply the guidelines up to $187,000 and supplement the award with a discretionary amount.. That amount is discretionary, meaning that the Court will look at the remaining family income (i.e., income in excess of $187,200) and the factors specified in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.
Each case is unique. Thus, due to the complexity of the calculations, a child support attorney will be able to review your information and provide you with the best estimate of the amount of child support that the court may order in your case.
In order to compute child support, the child support attorney will need some basic information, including the number of children that will be covered by the order, the ages of the children, the income of the parties, health insurance costs, daycare expenses, alimony paid or received, and any government benefits received on behalf of the children, just to name a few.
In addition to these factors, the parties’ custody and parenting plan also affects the final amount of child support and the worksheet used for its computation. If the children will spend less than 28% of their overnights with the non-custodial parent, or less than 105 overnights per year, a “sole parenting worksheet” is used. In cases where the children will spend more than 28% of their overnights with the non-custodial parent, or more than 105 overnights per year, a “shared parenting worksheet” is used. Utilizing a “sole: versus “shared” parenting worksheet is important because the child support amount can vary greatly, depending upon the number of overnights spent with each parent. After all of the above information is entered, the resulting worksheet determines what percentage of the support each parent is responsible for and applies that to the adjusted income of each parent to establish the amount of the support.
While this may, at first blush, appear to be a simple calculation that will not require the assistance of a divorce attorney, there are situations where the determination of child support will require additional inquiry and examination. Other factors like union dues, mandatory pension deductions, non-traditional sources of income, split-parenting arrangements, other dependent deductions (having other children outside of this relationship), extended parenting time for the non-custodial parent, and predictable recurring unreimbursed health care costs are all important additional factors which require consideration in determining child support.
Child support can also be supplemented to take into a child’s special needs or disabilities. In such circumstances, it is imperative that you speak with a family law attorney to determine the appropriate amount of child support and how child support could impact the child’s eligibility for Social Security benefits and Medicaid.
Once child support is ordered by the court, a modification will not be made unless there is proof that the circumstances surrounding the original order have changed. These changes could include loss of a job, a child reaching the age of 18, or changes in the parent that provides healthcare or its cost. Proof of the change should be taken to your child support attorney for evaluation.
Whether you will be paying or receiving child support on behalf of your children, be sure to provide complete financial information to your child custody attorney so that the amount ordered accurately reflects your situation and the needs and expenses of your children.