Child Support in New Jersey
When a couple with children decide to divorce, the emotional impact on the children can be difficult. However, just because the parents are no longer together, it does not diminish their financial obligation to their child regardless of who maintains physical custody.
Establishing a child support agreement is a part of your divorce settlement with your ex-spouse. The two sides will have to come to an agreement, and if they fail to do that, a judge will have to step in and establish a plan for the parents that they will be obligated to follow. However, the plan can be modified later to accommodate changes in the child’s needs or changes to an ex-spouse’s financial situation.
Whether you need to create a fair child support agreement in a divorce, enforce child support, or modify an existing support order, you need a lawyer experienced in child custody issues to protect you and your child’s rights. The lawyer will work tirelessly to provide you with a complete and effective argument when presenting your child support needs, in or out of court.
What Does Child Support Cover?
Children of divorced parents may find themselves at different stages of life, including having to attend school or participate in extracurricular activities. It can be stressful for parents who find their finances limited in the aftermath of a divorce. However, the parents still maintain their financial obligations to their children through child support.
These payments cover specific aspects of a child’s growth and development and can be used for those purposes only. Those items covered under child support payments are as follows:
- Basic necessities: Although this is a broad topic, it can cover anything regarding food and clothing. However, this includes clothing that the child requires and not miscellaneous clothing that is not essential.
- Medical care: These payments occur if a child has a medical emergency or other health issues. Child support will cover those expenses on an ongoing basis.
- Educational fees: This can include tuition or costs for books and other school supplies that the child will need to complete their education.
- Child care: If the child requires day care because both parents work, child support can cover that expense. If one of the parents wants to go out and requires a sitter, that cannot necessarily be covered under child support.
- Transportation/travel: This can include travel expenses that occur for the child to travel between parents or other trips in which the child participates for school or with friends.
- Entertainment: Any recreational activities that children want to participate in can be covered under child custody, including theme park visits, concerts, movies, and purchasing games and toys.
- Extracurricular activities: Any sports or clubs that children participate in could cost money, and both parents should shoulder those expenses.
- College expenses: As with other levels of education, college expenses can be costly and require significant financial contributions. Child support will cover everything from tuition, to books, to room and board.
The parent receiving the child support payments must use those payments for any of the above referenced expenses. They cannot use it for extraneous items, and they certainly cannot use it for personal expenses. If the contributing parent suspects that their payments are being mishandled, they should speak with a child custody lawyer who will address the matter with the court.
How Is Child Support Determined in New Jersey?
New Jersey uses the so-called income shares method of determining child support. This means that the level of support will be based on the income of both parents combined. To determine the amount to be paid in child support, there are several predetermined factors outlined by New Jersey Statute 2A:34-23.
These factors include:
- The child’s needs
- Each parent’s standard of living
- Each parent’s assets and income
- Each parent’s, and the child’s, health and age
There could be several other factors that determine the amount of court-ordered child support as well. After careful review of your case, a lawyer can better determine what additional elements might factor into your calculations.
As part of the divorce settlement agreement, the two parents will negotiate child support payments based on the child’s needs. Once they come to an agreement, a judge must approve the plan. The judge will reject it if they believe that it is inadequate or that it places too much of a burden on one parent.
Once the plan is approved, money will be taken out of the contributing parent’s paycheck to pay for child support. New Jersey adopted this method because relying on parents to send checks directly to their ex-spouse became a logistical nightmare and was too easy for individuals to withhold payments.
The New Jersey Family Support Payment Center (NJFSPC) processes all payments and will be the agency to contact if there is a change in jobs or other source for the payments. In addition, the parents receiving the payments can obtain the money through a variety of methods, including direct deposit, check, and other payment plan.
Can I Modify My Child Support Payments?
A person’s situation can change from moment to moment, and that can be reflected in the child support payments that parents are obligated to provide. Life changes to either parent or even the child themselves could have an impact on the amount of money a parent must contribute.
If you wish to make modifications to your child support payment plan, you should speak with your lawyer, who will petition the court to explain that you wish to make changes. You should be prepared to explain why you require those changes and present evidence to support your claim. You can seek a modification for a variety of reasons, including the following:
- One parent has lost their home.
- One parent has contracted a serious illness or sustained a serious injury.
- Their child has sustained a serious injury or contracted a medical condition.
- One parent recently took a significant pay cut or lost their job.
- There has been a change in federal income tax laws
- One parent is now living with another person/has remarried.
- One parent has received a job promotion or has come into a large sum of money, via an inheritance or otherwise.
Assuming you have a civil working relationship with your ex-spouse, changing this agreement may be nothing more than a formality. However, if there are problems between the two of you or one of you disagrees with the requested change, you will have to go through the courts to push for the change you want.
Even when you do have the support of your ex-spouse, you will still need to convince the court of the reason for the change. It will benefit you to have a seasoned child custody lawyer on your side to help you through this process.
How Long Must I Pay Child Support Payments?
Child support payments are a finite arrangement between you and your ex-spouse and will expire when certain conditions occur. The primary condition is on the child’s 19th birthday, when they are no longer able to be helped by child support. There are exceptions, including if the child decides to continue to college. In this situation, the parent can seek an extension to the agreement to help pay for college.
There are other circumstances that could arise that could prompt a parent to request that their child support payments stop. Those conditions include the following:
- Your child is no longer living with his/her parents.
- Your child has enlisted in the military.
- Your child is now financially independent and has obtained a full-time job.
- Your child is now married.
- Your child is pregnant or has children of his/her own.
If the end date of child support payments is not specified in the agreement, the parents, or one of the parents, will have to go to court to request that the child support payments stop and provide evidence to prove their reasons. The court will then have to agree that the child support payments should stop.
How Can Burnham Douglass Help My Case?
No family law matter is too complex for our dedicated team to manage. When you need a skilled New Jersey child support attorney on your side, you can rely on our legal advocates. We are more than prepared to protect you and your child’s financial well-being and future.
Marlton Child Custody Lawyers at Burnham Douglass Help You Establish, Modify, or Terminate a Child Custody Agreement
Ensuring the financial well-being of your children is an essential aspect of parenting and can be difficult when you get a divorce. If you need help in establishing an agreement with your ex-spouse or suspect they are abusing an existing agreement, the Marlton child custody lawyers at Burnham Douglass can help. Our experienced and compassionate law team will help your through the divorce process, protecting your rights and working toward an amicable agreement. Contact us online or call us at 856-751-5505 for a free consultation. We are located in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey, and we serve residents in and around Marlton, Cherry Hill, Voorhees, Trenton, Northfield, Linwood, Atlantic City, Pleasantville and surrounding towns in Atlantic County, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and Mercer County.