By: Justin M. Smigelsky, Esq.
The Child Support Guidelines were developed to provide courts with a mechanism for the establishment and modification of fair and adequate child support awards. The Child Support Guidelines are based on the premise that child support is a continuous duty of both parents, children are entitled to share in the current income of both parents, and children should not be the economic victims of divorce or out-of-wedlock birth. Most importantly, the guidelines are based on the premise that children in New Jersey should be afforded the same opportunities available to children of intact families with parents of similar financial means as their own. Generally, an award of child support pursuant to the guidelines is calculated by commercially designed computer software, and is based on the combined net income of the parents and the nature of the overnight visitation between the parents and child(ren).
Pursuant to the New Jersey Rules of Court, the Child Support Guidelines “shall be applied when an application to establish or modify child support is considered by the Court” except upon a showing of good cause. To that end, a completed child support guideline worksheet in the form prescribed by Appendix IX of the Rules is required to be filed with any order for child support that is submitted to the Court for approval. If the Court finds that the guidelines are inappropriate in a specific case, it may disregard the guidelines or adjust the guidelines-based award to accommodate the needs of the children or the parents’ circumstances. However, if a proposed child support figure differs from an obligation calculated under the guidelines, any deviation must be based on the best interests of the child, stated in writing in the support order or on the guidelines worksheet, and the worksheet must state the reason for the deviation and the amount of the award calculated under the guidelines.
An award of child support includes the child’s share of expenses for housing (mortgage payments, home equity loans, property taxes, insurance, repairs, maintenance, rent, utilities, furniture, major appliances, etc.); food (all food and non-alcoholic beverages); clothing (child’s clothing, footwear, diapers, dry cleaning, jewelry, etc.); transportation (costs involved with owning or leasing an automobile); entertainment (fees, memberships, recreation, lessons, instructions, movie rentals, televisions, hobbies, video games, toys, etc.); unreimbursed health care up to and including $250.00 per child per year; and miscellaneous items (personal care products and services, books, magazines, etc.). Furthermore, the guidelines allow for inclusion of additional expenses – such as child care expenses, marginal cost of health insurance, predictable and recurring unreimbursed health care expenses in excess of $250.00 per child per year, and other expenses approved by the Court – if incurred in a particular case. In some instances, an adjustment to the child support obligation may be required due to other legal dependents of either parent or when government benefits are paid to or for the children.
If you have any questions in regards to child support, the Child Support Guidelines, or family law, you may wish to consult with an experienced family law attorney. This article is for information purposes only, and is neither legal advice nor the creation of an attorney client relationship.
Timothy J. Little, P.C. – All Rights Reserved
Attorneys in Woodbridge, New Jersey representing clients throughout Middlesex County (Old Bridge, Woodbridge, Sayreville, East Brunswick, Spotswood, Perth Amboy, Dunellen, Colonia, Sewaren, Iselin, Avenel, Fords, Keasbey, Menlo Park, Port Reading, South Amboy, Monroe, Edison, Carteret, Cranbury, Helmetta, South River, Milltown, Highland Park, Jamesburg, Laurence Harbor), Monmouth County, Union County, Ocean County, Somerset County, and Burlington County.