Parents are legally obligated to support their children under the age of 19 and sometimes beyond that if the child attends college. In times of divorce, separation, or other legal matters, the courts have the authority to order parents to financially support their children. Each state has guidelines that determine what is fair to both the parents and the children. The determination of a fair child support agreement is a complicated process and many factors will be considered. They are mostly predictable and the guidelines are often presumed to be fair and just.
The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines fairly distribute the financial cost of raising a child between parents when one has sole custody. The guidelines consider factors like the respective incomes of both parents, the child’s age, and the physical location of the child before allocating the cost of raising the child. Though one parent may pay more child support, there are factors that determine the outcome. For example, if a child stays with one parent during the week and visits the other parent on weekends, the cost of raising the child is higher for the weekday guardian, thus asking more from the weekend caregiver. Some of the costs to the primary caregiver include, but are not limited to, the child’s share of expenses for food, clothing, shelter, transportation, entertainment, and un-reimbursed health care costs up to a certain amount.
The guidelines will examine factors about the parents. These may include:
- The socio-economic status of each parent
- Income, debt, and assets of each parent
- Earning capability
- Educational background
- Work history
The guidelines will examine factors about the child. Some may include:
- The needs of the child
- The age and health of the child
- The education of the child
- The cost of providing for the child including child care
Taking into consideration all of these factors, the court has the authority to adjust the calculation of the child support. In some cases, if the court finds a parent voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, it may order the party to pay child support based former income or the average from the New Jersey Department of Labor Wage Statistics. Other factors that could force the court to deviate from the guidelines may include the unforeseen costs of a special-needs child, a household with six or more children, and the medical expenses of a parent. The court’s order or the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet will document each deviation.
Shared parenting in New Jersey a living arrangement where the child spends two or more nights per week with the non-custodial parent or over 104 overnights per year. The parents have the responsibility to file a parenting plan with the courts that demonstrates the parenting time and responsibility of each parent. If successful, the court will use the Shared Parenting Guidelines, which use the discretion of the court and are not as presumptive. This means that the court and the parents will work together to come to a child support agreement that everyone can live with and works for the child’s best interest.
Lastly, In New Jersey, child support can end when the child turns 19 years old or in some cases, 23 years old. If your child attends a secondary school, you may still be held responsible for the support, as they cannot support themselves financially. This could extend through college and beyond depending on the court’s ruling. When either parent determines the child is above the age of 19 and independent, they will file papers with the court declaring emancipation of the child. This declares that they are financially independent and no longer need financial assistance. With convenient locations in Cherry Hill and New Brunswick, New Jersey, we are strategically situated to serve clients across the state. Speak with an attorney at Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, P.C. in order to receive the best outcome for your legal matter.