Navigating Child Custody in New Jersey
While divorce can be a trying time in a person’s life, the process can be even more complicated when parents take into consideration the financial needs of those who depend upon them most – their children. In New Jersey, children have a fundamental and constitutional right to have their parents support them financially. In a child support agreement, one parent pays the other parent a sum (usually determined by the Court) for the benefit of the child. New Jersey family courts rely on state guidelines to determine the specific payment amount; however, they have the discretion to deviate from the guidelines when there is good cause.
Child Support Guidelines Help Establish Support Payments
New Jersey Court Rule 5:6A, Appendix IX-A, B, delineates the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines to assist parties and the Court in calculating the amount in child support a parent should receive from a spouse. Under the Guidelines, the continuing obligation of both parents to pay child support is calculated using the net income of each parent, which may include paychecks, rental income, bonuses and even alimony and separate maintenance payments. Only upon a presentation of good cause may the court deviate from the Guidelines. See Fichter v. Fichter, 444 N.J. Super. 205 (Super Ct. 2015) (requiring parents to contribute additional money towards a newly licensed, unemancipated child driver’s car insurance). Also, in certain cases, child support obligations may continue beyond the age of emancipation (18 years old). Attorneys will want to investigate whether their client is the parent of a child who, while over the age of eighteen (18), is attending college or suffers from either mental or physical incapacity, as such circumstances may require the continuation of child support payments beyond the age of emancipation.
Factors Used to Determine Child Support Payments in New Jersey
In cases where the combined net annual income of the parents is in excess of $187,200.00, the court will apply the Guidelines up to $187,200.00 and supplement the Guidelines based award with a discretionary amount using the remaining family income and those factors codified under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(a). In addressing the reasonable needs of the child, the court will consider, among other factors:
- The standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent;
- the sources of income and assets of each parent;
- the earning ability of each parent, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, custodial responsibility for children including the cost of providing child care and length of time and cost of each parent to obtain training or experience for appropriate employment;
- and the need and capacity of the child for education, including higher education; and any other factors the court may deem relevant.
However, in taking all of these factors into consideration, courts are not willing to issue a child support maintenance order that indulges beyond a child’s needs. Isaacson v. Isaacson, 348 N.J. Super. 560, 583 (App. Div. Certif. denied 74 N.J. 364 (2002)).
New Jersey Child Support and Custody Lawyers at Your Service
Determining child support payments is one of the main issues in a divorce. Drafting a child support agreement requires each spouse to reveal all sources of income and other sensitive information you might not want the court to see. With a child support lawyer on your side, your rights will be protected at each turn as the focus remains on the needs of your child.
At Sandelands Eyet, our team of New Jersey family lawyers is determined to provide for your child’s best interests while keeping you in control of your financial situation. If you are looking for more information regarding child support payments or you are in need of legal counsel to assist you in modifying existing child support payments, be sure to contact Sandelands Eyet LLP at (908) 470-1200 to get in contact with our highly trained attorneys.