In New Jersey, child support is considered to a be continuous duty of both parents. The actual child support to be paid is determined in the vast majority of cases by utilizing the tables set forth in the Child Support Guidelines, which are contained in an Appendix to the New Jersey Rules of Court. Like most divorce and family law firms in the State of New Jersey, the law office of Jeffrey R. Brown, Esq. utilizes specialized software similar to that employed by the Family Court in order to arrive at the proper child support computation.
The Child Support Guidelines take into account the number of children and the incomes of the mother and father, as well as various other factors, including the cost of any work-related child care which is being paid, the cost to the parent(s) of providing health insurance coverage for the children, any previous child support orders in effect, mandatory pension contributions, any alimony which is being paid or received, and so forth. The Child Support Guidelines also take into account the number of overnight visits the non-custodial parent receives with the children.
The Child Support Guidelines must be used as a rebuttable presumption to establish and modify all child support orders. Essentially, this means that a Child Support Guideline award of child support is presumed to be the correct amount unless a party can convince a Court that there is good cause to disregard or adjust the Guideline award. (In practice, this happens very, very rarely, and typically, to adjust child support upward, and not downward.) Should the Court decide to deviate from the Guidelines, the reason for the deviation must be specified in writing.
In theory, the person paying child support is contributing to the child’s share of expenses for housing, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment, and unreimbursed health care costs up to $250.00 per child per year. Child support does not include the cost of a vehicle purchased or leased for the primary use of a child. Depending upon the facts of a given case, a Court could impose a duty on one or both parents to supply a vehicle for a child old enough to drive. This is most commonly seen in cases where a child needs to commute to college, and the parties have the ability to contribute to the cost of a vehicle.
While child support can be paid directly from one party to another, in most cases, the person receiving child support chooses to collect it through the Probation Department via wage garnishment. Probation will contact the payor’s employer and advise that a certain sum must be collected every pay period and sent to Probation, after which those monies are disbursed to the payee. The benefit to both the payor and the payee is that wage garnishment eliminates the need for the parties to have contact with each other with respect to payment of child support, and Probation will maintain a record of all child support monies paid. In addition, the payee will have the benefit of periodic cost of living increases. Most importantly, if the payor does not make payment of child support, the Probation Department will institute enforcement proceedings.
There is some legal authority for a Court allowing at least a portion of child support to be paid directly to a college-aged child, however this remains the exception rather than the rule and is not frequently seen in practice.
Most people don’t realize that in New Jersey, child support does not automatically end when a child reaches 18. Instead, in New Jersey, child support will typically continue until the child finishes college, so long as the child remains enrolled on a continuous, full-time basis.
If you have a child support matter, contact the law office of Jeffrey R. Brown, Esq. to consult with an experienced divorce and family law attorney who can explore the various factors in your case when determining child support to ensure that you are either paying or receiving the appropriate amount.