When parents go through a divorce, one of their biggest concerns is the safety and stability of their children. It is because of this that the state of New Jersey requires all parents to financially support their children, even after a divorce. In order to secure this, child support payments are made from one spouse to another to make sure a child’s standard of living remains the same as it was prior to the divorce. As this is a critical part of divorce proceedings, it is important to have a thorough understanding of how it works. Continue reading our guide to child support below and reach out to an experienced New Jersey family law attorney for any questions you may have.
How is Child Support Calculated in New Jersey?
When making any kind of family law decision, the court system in New Jersey puts the best interests of the children at the forefront to ensure any and all decisions benefit them first. New Jersey courts recognize that every family is different from one another. It is because of this that there is not a “one size fits all” approach to the matter of child support. In order to determine an amount that a parent must pay in support, the state follows the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. This is a formula that calculates support based on the parents’ combined yearly income between $8,840 and $187,200 to settle a fair amount.
What Happens to Cases Outside Child Support Guidelines?
There are many cases in which families do not fit into the guidelines that are set regarding child support in New Jersey. In situations such as these, the court will take other outside factors into account regarding the family in order to determine a fair amount owed in child support. This can include the following:
- The financial status of both parents
- Who has physical custody of the child
- The incomes, debts, and assets of each parent
- Each parent’s earning capacity
- Each parent’s work history
- The child’s needs
- The child’s age/health
- The child’s education
- The cost of providing for the child
What Does Child Support Cover?
It is important for parents receiving child support to know that these payments are not money that can be used freely. The purpose of child support is to provide children with a financially stable life even though their parents are no longer together. It is because of this that the payments that are made must go towards anything relating to the upbringing of those children. This can begin basics such as with housing, food, clothing, healthcare, education, etc. In addition to this, what many people do not realize is that child support payments can also cover recreational activities or hobbies to enhance the child’s upbringing. New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines also allow coverage for transportation, such as car payments, maintenance, and public transportation for the child.
What Do I Do if my Ex Refused to Pay Child Support?
Child support payments are a court order that is mandatory. This means that if a parent refuses to make the payments, there are legal options that can be taken so that they are enforced by the court. The first step that can be taken is to inform the Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) where these agreements are established. Even if the parent does not receive child support through OCSS, they can still contact the department if their spouse is not making their payments as agreed in their divorce settlement. If OCSS acknowledges that the child support payments are more than two weeks overdue, they can work towards enforcing the agreement. This can include but is not limited to any of the following enforcement tools:
- Income withholding
- Credit reporting
- Tax fund offset
- Seizure of assets
- License suspension
- Passport denial
- Court enforcement
- Civil awards/settlements
Can Child Support Arrangements Be Modified in New Jersey?
As life goes on after a divorce, former spouses often experience new changes in their lives. Their lives can be completely different than they were when their divorce took place. This can include a new job, new relationship, etc. When this happens, it could impact a parent’s ability to pay child support. New Jersey courts recognize this and allow post-judgment modifications to be made as a result. This allows changes to be made to child support agreements in the event that a parent can either pay more in support or needs to pay less.
In order to be granted a modification by the court, the parent who wants it is required to show that they have experienced a change in circumstances that calls for the modification. Some circumstances that may constitute this can include:
- One parent lost their home
- One parent contracted a serious illness or sustained a serious injury
- The child sustained a serious injury or contracted a medical condition
- One parent took a significant pay cut or lost their job
- There was a change in federal income tax laws
- One parent cohabitates with another person or has remarried
- One parent received a job promotion or came into a large sum of money
Receiving a modification is rarely ever easy. Oftentimes, the other parent rejects these changes, as situations involving finances can be difficult. It is because of this that any parent who wishes to receive one must prove these changes by showing evidence. This can be accomplished with the help of a New Jersey child support attorney who is ready to fight for the support your child needs.
When do Child Support Payments End in New Jersey?
When a parent is making child support payments, they are often concerned with when the payments can be stopped. As stated earlier, every family is different and these cases are rarely ever treated uniformly. Instead, they are taken case by case to meet the needs of the family in question. It is because of this that there are different variables taken into consideration when determining an end date for child support.
Generally, child support is required to be paid until a child reaches the age of emancipation. In the state of New Jersey, this age is usually 19 years old. However, this is not always the case and courts can make some exceptions to this rule. This may be in the event of certain circumstances in the child’s life, such as whether or not they wish to pursue higher education or have a disability of any kind. In these cases, the court can choose to extend child support payments.
On the alternative end, it is also possible for a child to be emancipated earlier than the age of 19. While it is uncommon, it can happen under certain circumstances. This may be in the event of any of the following, with the approval of the court:
- The child no longer lives with the parents
- The child enlisted in the military
- The child is now financially independent and has a full-time job
- The child is now married
- The child is pregnant or has children of their own
Once a child is officially deemed as emancipated, the parent is no longer required to make child support payments. We understand how complicated and emotionally charged these situations can be. It is because of this that parents facing these situations need a compassionate and skilled attorney to fight for their rights every step of the way.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any matters of divorce or family law, Haber Silver Russoniello & Dunn is here to help. Our firm has years of experience handling legal matters relating to child support, child custody, mediation, alimony, and much more.
Contact our Firm
If you require strong legal representation for matters related to divorce or family law, Haber Silver Russoniello & Dunn is here to help. We proudly represent clients in Morris County and throughout the state of New Jersey. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.