When a couple with children divorces or decides to live apart, the custodial parent is often left with the unfortunate consequence of having insufficient financial resources to care for the child’s needs. New Jersey child support laws aim to reduce this negative effect by providing children with the same amount of financial resources they would have if both parents were living together.
Child support matters can be difficult to resolve. Though both parents can usually agree that their children deserve to have their needs cared for, they may have very different opinions on what those needs are. When this is the case, an experienced team of New Jersey child support lawyers can help to work out the details of a child support order, as well as help to draft custody agreements and parenting schedules.
The factors that most often determine the amount of a child support award include the income or earning potential of both parents, the amount of time the child spends with each parent and other factors such as if the child has any special needs. Income used to establish child support awards include:
- Any money due or received from lump sum awards or annuities, including lottery winnings, personal injury awards and insurance settlements
- Commissions, overtime and bonus pay
- Income from investments, including interest earned, royalties, and dividends paid
- Net income from partial or total ownership in a business
- Net income from rental properties
- Retirement income, including Social Security retirement benefits
- Unemployment benefits
- Wages and salary
- Workers’ Compensation benefits and Social Security Disability benefits
Both parents have a duty to support their children, not just the paying parent. Willful unemployment or underemployment by either parent is not an acceptable method to avoid financial responsibility. Under these circumstances, the court will base the award on the parent’s earning capacity, as determined by employment history, education level and skill set.
New Jersey Child Support Guidelines generally determine the amount of child support payments. Special considerations for certain child-related expenses such as tuition for private school and extracurricular activities are handled on a case-by-case basis.
Military Service Members
Military families are subject to the same child support guidelines as civilian families in New Jersey; however, in some cases child support payments can be adjusted during periods of active service. Military income used to establish support includes basic pay, hazardous duty pay, pensions and retirement, Basic Allowance for Housing, Basic Allowance for Subsistence and Family Separation Allowance. Support payments are withheld by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service from the service member’s pay and are issued monthly to the custodial parent. Federal regulations limit the total amount of child support and alimony payments to no more than 60% of the service member’s total pay and allowances.
Modification of a Child Support Order
Once established, an order of support will continue until the child is emancipated or a judge ends the order. Changes to a support order are never automatic, but may be requested by either party at any time. The requesting party must provide proof of a substantial change in material circumstances before a court will consider a modification. An experienced attorney can help you determine the right time to request a modification and can help to build an effective argument for your case. Common reasons to request a modification of a child support order include:
- An involuntary decrease in income of either parent
- Change in custody arrangements
- Existence of additional income, income sources (including remarriage) or assets
- Emancipation of the child
- Increase in child care need or medical expenses
Orders for child support become enforceable on the date that the custodial parent files for support. Child support is not tied with visitation rights and the court will not allow either parent to bargain away their child’s right to support. Non-custodial parents who fail to make their court-ordered child support payments face a number of consequences, including wage garnishments, contempt of court decrees, seizure of property, fines and jail time of up to six months.
Cherry Hill Divorce Lawyer at the Law Offices of Richard C. Klein Find Effective Solutions for Child Support Issues
The Law Offices of Richard C. Klein is committed to putting the needs of children first. Our New Jersey child support lawyers also believe in the importance of protecting the rights and financial security of their parents. We help families in New Jersey find effective and fair solutions to all matters concerning child support and child custody. To arrange a consultation, call 856-544-9155 today or contact us online.