Courts Evaluate Income and Expenses to Determine Child Support
How New Jersey Courts Calculate Child Support Payments
The latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that 50.2 percent of the 13.6 million custodial parents in the nation have some type of child support payment agreement. As of 2015, noncustodial parents owed about $33.7 billion in child support; however, only about 60 percent of payees reported receiving their payments, which averaged $3,447 per household annually. This means many custodial parents find themselves forced to take action against the payor.
Paying Child Support is Mandatory
Parents have a legal and social obligation to pay for the care of their children. When parents are divorced or living separately, child support laws direct the noncustodial parent to send regular payments to the custodial parent to cover expenses related to raising the child.
A child support agreement typically emerges when parents:
- Complete a divorce
- Gain family court approval of an agreement created by unmarried parents
- Apply for child support through the state’s child support agency
No matter which route you need to take for obtaining financial support for your children, a Hackensack family attorney could provide you with valuable guidance. Legal advice might improve your ability to overcome issues such as establishing paternity, finding an out-of-state parent or negotiating the terms directly with the other parent.
Calculating Child Support
In general, support payments are based on the income level of the noncustodial parent as well as the standard of living the child may have received while the parents were together. The State of New Jersey has created child support calculation guidelines that analyze the income of both parents and determine expenses for the children. The court will look at all sources of income, including:
- Wages, tips, bonuses and commissions
- Business profits
- Spousal support from other relationships
- Annuities and trust interest
- Distributions from retirement plans
- Workers’ compensation
- Net capital gains from investment sales
After determining your income and that of the other parent, a court will review all expenses attributed to your children. These child-related costs could include:
- Food, clothing and housing
- Health insurance
- Extraordinary medical expenses
With assistance from a child support attorney, you might communicate your specific needs effectively to a judge and gain a child support order that reflects your needs or ability to pay. You can prepare for a child support conference or hearing by supplying all or your financial records that describe your income, taxes, health insurance premiums and children’s expenses.
How Child Support Is Paid
Federal law mandates the automatic deduction of child support payments from the payor’s source of income. In most cases, this means that the court’s child support order will go to an employer who must then send the specified amount to the New Jersey Family Support Payment Center. That agency then directs the money to the custodial parent.
In addition to paychecks, child support orders may redirect funds from the payor’s unemployment, Social Security or disability benefits. Judges do have the ability to make alternative arrangements when paying child support via automatic deduction is not workable. For example, a judge might have to specify another way to collect money from a self-employed person.
Resolving Child Support Disputes
Ideally, you and the other parent will develop a Consent Support Agreement on your own. By reaching a mutual compromise, you will not need to appear in court. Otherwise, you will need to present your case to a judge. After considering all the details of income and expenses, the judge will issue a court order that defines the amount to be paid by the noncustodial parent.
Receive Personalized Legal Advice
It’s not unusual for issues surrounding child support to be complex and emotional. However, a Hackensack family attorney could answer your questions about child support and suggest strategies for pursuing your goals. The Law Offices of Kelly Berton Rocco is located in Hackensack, New Jersey. You can fill out our contact form or tell us about your case by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (201) 343-0078.