Zealous Advocacy from Our Livingston Matrimonial & Family Lawyers
Following divorce or separation, each parent has a continuing obligation to financially support their child(ren) until emancipation. The right to child support is considered to be the child(ren)'s as opposed to the custodial parent's.
At Ziegler, Zemsky & Resnick, our team of skilled matrimonial law attorneys are experienced in the interpretation and application of the Child Support Guidelines and related statutory and case law. We can help ensure that a fair assessment of your family's circumstances is made and that you and your children can continue to thrive after your marriage.
Call us at (973) 878-4373 today for an assessment of your specific circumstances. Our team is ready to hear your family's story.
Determining Child Support
In New Jersey, in stark contrast to the determination of alimony, child support is generally calculated by formula pursuant to the “Child Support Guidelines” which are set forth in Appendix IX to the New Jersey Rules of Court. Same take into consideration a host of factors including each parent’s income, alimony paid by either parent to the other, health insurance premiums or work-related child care incurred for the child(ren), and the extent of the non-custodial parent’s overnight parenting time. Child support awards under the Guidelines encompass three categories of spending related to children.
These categories include:
- “Fixed” costs (representing 38% of relative spending on children) which are incurred even when a child is not in a parent’s physical custody such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, household furnishings, and household care items.
- Variable costs (representing 37% of relative spending on children) which "follow the child" and are incurred only when a child is in the physical custody of a parent such as transportation and food.
- Controlled costs (representing 25% of relative spending on children) which are generally “controlled” by a child’s primary caretaker such as clothing and entertainment expenses.
Extremely high or low parental income may impact the applicability of the Child Support Guidelines. For instance, for parents with a combined net income in excess of $187,200 per year, Appendix IX mandates that the Guidelines be applied up to the $187,200 threshold and that an additional, discretionary amount be awarded based upon an analysis of the following statutory factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34.
These factors include:
- The child's needs
- The economic circumstances of each parent
- The sources of income of each parent
- The earning ability and/or potential of each parent (including skills, training, etc.)
- The child's current and potential educational opportunites
- The age and physical and mental health of the child (and each parent)
- The income of the child and any assets they may have
- Any pre-existing court-ordered support orders any parent might be responsible for (if any)
- Any debts and liabilities of each child and parent
- Any other factors the judge may find relevant
Conversely, if a parent’s net income is a certain percentage below the U.S. poverty guidelines, the court must perform a fact-sensitive review as more specifically set forth in Appendix IX of the parent’s income and living expenses before assessing a child support obligation.
Pursuant to Appendix IX, the court has the discretion to consider a variety of other factors which may require an adjustment to a Guidelines-based award of child support such as private school tuition for a child and obligations owed to more than one family, amongst many others.
Every family is different and parents always have unique concerns as they enter this process. Our legal team is ready to listen to our clients and ensure that these specific child support concerns are voiced and compellingly put forth to the court.
Don't hesitate to start preparing for this process. Contact our firm today to request a case evaluation with our team.