Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers | July 18, 2023 | Child Support
Parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support for their children. If the parents do not live together, the court typically awards child support payments to the custodial parent. The custodial parent is the primary caregiver for the child (i.e., the child lives with the parent most of the time).
New Jersey uses child support guidelines to calculate the amount of child support payments. A primary factor used in child support calculation is each parent’s income.
How Is Child Support Calculated in Bergen County, NJ?
The child support formula used in New Jersey to calculate support payments incorporates:
- The number of children to be supported
- The gross income of each parent
- The percentage of parenting time for each parent
The formula provides the basis for child support obligations. However, judges can consider other factors to calculate child support, including health insurance premiums, childcare costs, and a child’s special needs.
What Is Considered Income for Child Support Calculations in Bergen County, NJ?
Gross income includes income from any source. Income can include, but is not limited to:
- Compensation from employment, including salaries, wages, tips, commissions, and more
- Part-time, overtime, and severance pay
- Self-employment income
- Business and rental income
- Separate maintenance and alimony payments
- Income from profit-sharing plans
- Personal injury awards
- Retirement funds, including Social Security, IRAs, Veterans Administration, and more
- Disability income
- Workers’ compensation
- Unemployment income
It is crucial to ensure that the income figures are correct and you use all sources of income for the calculations. Otherwise, your child support payments may be incorrect. A Bergen County child support lawyer can help you identify all qualifying sources of income for determining child support payments.
Special Considerations for Calculating Gross Income for Child Support in Bergen County
Calculating gross income for child support is straightforward if you receive a W2, which is your sole income source. However, there are situations in which calculating gross income can be more challenging.
Income From Operating a Business
The gross income from a business is not the total of all revenue generated by the business. Instead, gross income equals total revenue minus necessary and ordinary operating expenses.
Parties may disagree about what business expenses are necessary and ordinary. A parent trying to lower their gross income could claim inflated or false business expenses. You may need to hire an expert to provide a business evaluation to determine gross income from business operations.
Imputing Income for a Spouse
In some situations, the court could impute income for a parent. For example, suppose a parent voluntarily quits their job. The court could impute income based on the parent’s earning history and/or earning potential.
A parent may have been a stay-at-home parent for many years. In that case, the court could impute income based on the parent’s occupational qualifications, education, skills, and prevailing job opportunities within the area.
Special Rules for High-Net-Worth Parents or High-Wage Earners
High-net-worth parents may have income that exceeds the child support guidelines. When that occurs, the courts recognize that children deserve to share the same standard of living their parents enjoy. Therefore, the court can consider other factors when determining child support payments for parents with income over the cap, including but not limited to:
- Private school tuition
- Clothing and incidentals for teenagers
- Art, music, and other lessons
- Summer camps
- College tuition
- Private tutoring
- Costs of studying abroad
- Sports camps
- Insured vehicles for teens that drive
The child support award should be based on the best interests of the child in these situations. High-net-worth child support cases are based on the unique circumstances of the children and the parents. In many cases, high-net-worth couples negotiate a child support agreement to present to the court in the interest of privacy.
Can Child Support Payments Change Based on Income Changes?
Family courts recognize that situations and circumstances change. A parent can petition the court for a modification in child support payments. However, they have the burden of proving that a substantial change in circumstances justifies changing child support payments.
Therefore, if your income decreases by $100 a month, the court is unlikely to consider the change a substantial change in circumstances to modify child support.
However, suppose your income decreases by $1,000 per month or you lose your job through no fault of your own. In that case, you might have a reasonable argument for modifying child support payments. It would depend on the facts and circumstances of the situation.
If you have questions about changing child support or how to calculate child support payments, the best source of information is a Bergen County child support attorney. Avoid using online child support calculators because they do not consider all factors that could impact child support in your situation.
Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help
Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule a free consultation with our team.