Articles Posted in Child Support

Are you owed a significant sum of child support?

Has the obligor of your child support recently received or is about to receive an inheritance?

Unfortunately, parents may fall delinquent on their child support obligation for any number of reasons.

How does the court decide which parent gets custody?

When parents cannot agree about issues concerning the custody of their minor children, the court will attempt to determine a custody arrangement that will be in the “best interest” of the children. This is typically accomplished after the court has reviewed evidence such as each party’s testimony, statements of other witnesses, and the results of the report of the “best interest evaluator” (a forensic psychologist or other qualified professional who assists the court). In some instances, the court may also consider the testimony of the children themselves, but only if they are of a sufficient age and capacity. In such situations, the judge usually speaks to the children outside the presence of the parents.

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At its essence, a marriage or civil union is essentially a contract. The term “contract” is defined under the law as an agreement between two (or more) parties that creates a legal obligation to do (or refrain from doing) a certain thing. Several elements must be present in order for a valid contract to be formed:  competency of the parties, subject matter, consideration, mutuality of agreement, and mutuality of obligation.

In a recent New York family law case, a trial judge was called upon to decide whether a husband and wife had formed a valid contract with regard to the husband’s agreement to pay rent for the couple’s grown children.

The Agreement, as Claimed by the Wife

In the Nassau County Supreme Court case of Liberman v. Liberman, 201429/2014, the parties had purportedly entered into an agreement under which the husband was to pay $1,900 per month to each of their children to subsidize the rent on their respective apartments in Manhattan. Although both children were employed, college graduates, and over the age of 21, the wife claimed that the husband was obligated to continue the payments until the children were either married (or had cohabitated with someone for a certain time) or reached the age of 30, whichever occurred first.

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How are child support payments calculated in New Jersey?

The State of New Jersey has established child support guidelines that are used in determining the amount of financial support that a parent should contribute to the care of his or her child. An “income-share” formula, which takes into consideration the income of both the custodial parent (now known as th4e PPR or, Parent of Primary Residence) and non-custodial parent (now known as the PAR or, Parent of Alternate Residence), is used to calculate the exact amount due. The guidelines also take certain expenses into account, including health insurance costs for the child or children,  and child care. In some cases, the parents may agree on the amount due under the guidelines. If this is not possible, the family court will make the decision.

Is it possible to deviate from the amount that the Child Support Guidelines say is owed?

Yes, but the family court must make a specific finding, in writing, for a deviation. In such a case, the court may disregard the guidelines or make an adjustment that reflects the children’s needs and the parents’ circumstances.

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In July, the New Jersey Senate passed a bill that would allow child support payments to automatically terminate once a child turns 19. Despite the proposed alterations in child support obligations, S1046 would allow such support payments to continue by court order in certain circumstances. For example, a parent or child may request that support continue for a child who is attending a secondary or post-secondary school. In addition, child support may continue under the proposed law for a recipient who has a serious disability that predates his or her 19th birthday or when the Division of Child Protection and Permanency determines a child must be placed outside the home. The law would also preserve any arrearages that a parent may accrue prior to a child’s 19th birthday.

According to bill supporters, S1046 aims to reduce the family court case load by reducing the number of situations where a New Jersey court is required to declare a child emancipated and terminate child support payments. In addition, supporters claim the proposed measure provides courts with the flexibility to continue child support payments when merited.

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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”).


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.

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A family court’s findings will typically be upheld as long as they are supported by adequate credible evidence. In Rubino v. Rubino, a New Jersey couple with two children divorced in 2006. At the time, the couple entered into a property settlement agreement (“PSA”) that was incorporated into their final judgment of divorce. The PSA provided each member of the former couple with joint physical and legal custody of their two children, outlined a visitation schedule, and stated the parents would pay equal portions of their children’s expenses in lieu of paying formal child support payments. The PSA also transferred the parties’ home to the former wife and required the woman to pay her former husband $80,000 in two installments within two years. Additionally, the agreement provided the former husband with the authority to extend the scheduled deadlines for any good reason including the welfare of the couple’s children.

Not long after the former couple’s divorce was finalized, the father was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child, stalking, and criminal sexual contact. As a result, the children’s mother was provided with full custody and her former husband was ordered to pay weekly child support. Both parents were also ordered to continue sharing monthly child care expenses.

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In New Jersey, an alimony or child support order may be modified based on permanently changed circumstances. When the facts are disputed by the former spouses, a court may choose to order a plenary, or evidentiary, hearing. In Galante v. Galante, a married couple with three children divorced in 2011. As part of the divorce proceedings, the couple entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement (“MSA”) that required the husband  to pay all of his youngest child’s expenses in lieu of traditional a child support payment based on the child support guidelines. It also included an alimony obligation from the husband to the wife that was broken down into two steps where he would pay certain expenses of the Wife plus he would give her a weekly amount of support direct.  After the former marital residence would be sold, the second step of the alimony kicked in.  In step two, the husband simply paid the wife a fixed sum of alimony each month.

About one year after the couple divorced, the husband sought to vacate the MSA due to “manifest unfairness.” Approximately six months after his request was denied, the man filed a new motion, this time he sought to modify his support and other obligations. As part of this new motion, he also requested a plenary hearing to address his requested relief and to determine how much his support should be reduced to.

In his motion, the former husband claimed that the parties’ MSA should be modified due to his changed financial circumstances. According to the former husband, since the time of the divorce being entered in 2011, his business income declined significantly, his business assets were seized by creditors, and he owed $16,000 in medical bills. The husband also stated that his financial circumstances were permanently changed when he accepted a much lower paying job with a new company. In response, the wife filed a cross-motion asking the trial court to deny her former husband’s request.

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A long-running battle involving a couple who divorced in New Jersey likely ended recently as courts in Florida and Montana wrapped up cases there involving issues related to the couple’s divorce. The rulings forced the husband to return to New Jersey to litigate his claims that the wife mismanaged a trust that the New Jersey court had created as part of the divorce, even though he had moved to Montana.

When Edwin Jonas III and his wife, Linda Jones, divorced, they did so in New Jersey. As part of that court order, the judge determined that the husband owed certain sums in alimony and child support. The court also ordered that several pieces of property that the husband owned be placed into a trust, giving the wife the authority both to sell items in the trust and, if the husband did not pay the alimony and child support amounts, to satisfy those obligations through the proceeds of the sale of the trust assets.

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In a recent New Jersey family law case, a divorced man tried to compel a paternity test to determine whether or not he was the father of his ex-wife’s children. Although he once had an opportunity to file a motion to verify the children’s parentage in the past, he waived that right. As a result, New Jersey legal doctrine and an agreement signed by the ex-husband now bar him from demanding a paternity test. When you are negotiating a child custody issue, it is important to work with a family law attorney who can fully explain the ramifications of a proposed post-separation agreement.

Mark and Jane had been married for seven years, during which time Jane gave birth to two children:  Randi and Kim. Mark had often suspected that Jane was having a sexual affair with Mark’s friend Jim. Eventually Jim died in a car accident, but the strain of suspicion lingered ,and Mark and Jane eventually got a divorce.

When filing for divorce, Mark brought up his suspicion that the children were not his. The family law judge even paused the case so that Mark could “amend his divorce complaint and for [an] order to compel a paternity test.” But Mark decided not to pursue a paternity test, and after a contentious period of negotiation,  Jane and Mark came to an agreement regarding their divorce. Their Post-Separation Agreement (PSA) mentioned the paternity dilemma several times, noting that Mark was unsure about the children’s parentage, and that he would pay reduced child support and surrender his custody rights due to the uncertainty of the situation. Continue reading

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