If you and your children’s other parent are not living together, you will likely find yourself having to address the issue of child support.
In the State of New Jersey, while many things in life may not be certain, it is fairly well established under New Jersey Law that both parents have a duty of support related to their children who have not been emancipated. This applies regardless of the parents’ living situation or whether or not they are married. In general, one parent is the custodial parent (under the current definitions, this person is referred to as the “Parent of Primary Residence” (the “P.P.R.”), or payee, and the other is the non-custodial parent (currently referred to as the “Parent of Alternate Residence” (the “P.A.R.”) or payor.
When determining a child support order, a New Jersey court is required to consider various factors. These factors include: the needs of the child, the standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent, any and all sources of income and each parent’s assets, the earning capacity of each parent, the need and capacity of the child for education, the age and health of the child as well as each parent, the income, assets, and earning ability of the child, the responsibility of each parent for the court-ordered support of others, the reasonable debts and liabilities of each child and parent, and any other factors the court may deem relevant. The good news, when it comes to the issues of child support, as compared to the issue of alimony )see our earlier blog posts on this topic), child support IS, in the vast majority of cases, calculated by the use of the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines (the “Guidelines”).
WHAT ARE THE NEW JERSEY CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES?
The Guidelines are a set of mathematical formulas that, once applied to the raw data, will generate the same support award amount, regardless of who or where the calculation is made. It’s that fixed and certain, except of course, if you and the other parent have a combined NET income between the two of you that exceeds $3600 per week! (this equals $187,200 per year of combined NET income of the two parents, on an annual basis). IF you find yourselves in this situation, the Guidelines will only apply up to the maximum amount set forth, for the $3600/week amount. Thereafter, the Guidelines are abundantly clear – you do NOT simply extrapolate the maximum guidelines amount by the amount which exceeds this ceiling of $187,200/yr. Instead, the Guidelines and the case lase in New Jersey that has resulted from disputes involving such situations, is well settled. A judge is REQUIRED to hold a hearing (known as a “plenary hearing”) where witnesses, documentation, and facts are to be introduced, to allow the judge to determine how much, if any, the child support should be increased above the maximum amount under the Guidelines. This inquiry by the judge is to ascertain what, IF ANY, needs of the child or children would NOT be met if the support order was fixed at the maximum amount up to which the Guidelines were capped. As you can well imagine, the amount, if any, by which the support should be increased is therefore extremely fact sensitive. The attorneys at Goldstein Law Group have handled many cases in which the parties combined net incomes far exceed the Guidelines maximum. We have conducted many trails in the Superior Court Family Part to address the child support award that may apply in such high income cases. Selecting a knowledgeable attorney that has experience is this specific area is critically important.