All parents (married or not) have a legal responsibility to financially support their children. Child support is the State of New Jersey’s legal means to ensure that divorced parents continue meeting these financial obligations. Child support is a right that belongs to the child, not to either parent.

There are many online calculators and formulas to help estimate child support payments. However, you should always meet with an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer to discuss the facts of your case, and the specific needs of your children.

The amount of child support owed is usually determined by the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. However, a mediation, negotiation, or collaborative divorce approach can allow co-parents to create an alternative plan that better meets the needs of the child.

What Are Child Support Payments Used For?

Child support payments are used to pay for the child’s food, shelter, clothing, transportation, education, medical costs, and (some) extracurricular activities. It can also be used to fund other expenses associated with these categories. For example: Shelter doesn’t just include rent, it can also include utilities and telephone bills. The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines do not include college tuition.

How is Child Support Determined?

There are many factors that dictate the structure of a child support arrangement:

  • The net income of both parents
  • Age of the children
  • Number of children
  • Distribution of overnight parenting time
  • Alimony and child support payments from prior marriages
  • Earning potential of both parents
  • The child’s special needs or uninsured medical requirements, if applicable

Can Child Support Payments Be Adjusted?

Child support payments can be adjusted biannually for cost of living increases, or as-needed based on a substantial change in life circumstances. Parental relocation does not affect the status of a child support order. If a recipient of alimony remarries (resulting in the termination of those payments), child support can be adjusted to reflect the updated net income of both parents. To request an adjustment, the parents can agree to a change between themselves. If they are unable to do so, one of the parents would have to file a modification motion with the court.

What If I Don’t Pay Child Support?

Your child support order is legally binding. By statute, the State of New Jersey prefers to take child support payments directly out of a parent’s paycheck, and send it to the person entitled to receive support on behalf of the child. In extreme circumstances, failing to pay child support can result in seizing tax refunds, revoking driver’s licenses and passports, suspending professional licenses, and jail time.

Children Should Never Be the Economic Victims of a Divorce

If you are pursuing a divorce in New Jersey, hire an attorney focused exclusively on divorce and family law. Our team at Arons & Solomon will help you organize the facts of your case, and advocate effectively to protect the financial needs of yourself and your children.