• Understanding New Jersey Child Support
  • February 17, 2015
  • Law Firm: Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell Hippel LLP - Philadelphia Office
  • Parents who decide to go their separate ways will undoubtedly face issues surrounding child support and visitation. Regardless of whether you were married or unmarried, New Jersey law requires both parents to provide monetary support to their children for a certain length of time. The current support guidelines are discussed in Appendix IX and Court Rule 5:6A and New Jersey state courts follow the "income shares" model of support. The support guidelines are complex and quite detailed; therefore, all individuals interested in learning more about their support obligations are advised to speak with a well-versed family lawyer in Cherry Hill as soon as possible.

    Estimating Your Potential Child Support Amount

    There are ways for parents to estimate the amount of support they may be ordered to pay. First, you will need to consider the total amount of income available for support and fill out either the Shared Parenting Worksheet from Appendix IX D or the Sole Parenting Worksheet from Appendix IX C. So, how do you know which worksheet is appropriate for your situation?

    If the kids are with both parents for a period equal to more than two overnights per week, you should complete the Shared Parenting Worksheet. Generally, one parent is designated as the parent of primary residence (PPR) while the other is deemed to be the parent of alternate residence (PAR). The PPR is the parent with whom the kids reside while attending school or spend more overnight time. However, there may be times when the court deems it more appropriate to use the Sole Parenting Worksheet.

    With respect to sole parenting situations, the parent who has physical custody of the kids receives a higher percentage of the support income that is available because courts presume that the parent with custody pays more of the direct costs associated with raising the kids. Your family law attorney will tell you, however, that the non-custodial parent paying support will likely receive an adjustment based on his or her PAR time for payment of various expenses, such as transportation and food during visits.

    What Can Be Deemed Income for Purposes of Support?

    As noted above, the court will consider both parents’ combined net incomes, meaning their gross income minus certain allowable deductions. For purposes of support, gross income includes amounts related to commission, wages, self-employment, interest and/or dividends, rent, bonuses and pensions, among other things.

    Certain deductions can be made from one’s gross income, including mandatory retirement contributions and union dues, income taxes and amounts paid for other children or to former spouses under a court order.

    If the court deems a parent to be voluntarily unemployed or under-employed, the court may decide to impute certain amounts of income on that parent, which will be determined based on the individual’s earning capacity based on his or her education, training, work history and available jobs in the area.

    Deviating From the Guidelines

    Appendix IX A provides an explanation of certain situations in which a judge may need to deviate from the guidelines when crafting his or her child support order. Parents should note, however, that if a court does deviate from the prescribed guidelines, it must explain the reasons for doing so in writing.