Child support is the right of every child in New Jersey and cannot be waived by either party. All parents regardless of their marital status have an obligation to support their children until they are deemed emancipated. Child support is not terminated automatically and may continue longer based on extraordinary circumstances such as the special needs of a child.
Unlike alimony, child support is calculated using New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines which is a specific formula requiring the disclosure of certain financial information from both parents. This information includes income, health insurance costs, work related childcare costs and details of other support obligations a parent may be required to pay or is currently receiving. While the Guidelines apply to families where the combined net income of the parents is less than $187,000 per year, or $3,600 per week, parents with a higher net income are still required to pay child support. Couples whose combined income exceeds $187,000 annually will have their child support obligations calculated outside of the Guidelines in what is referred to as an “above guidelines calculation.”
Another important factor in determining child support is the number of overnight stays that each party is exercising with the child or children. The number of weekly stays will affect not only the amount of child support awarded but also the manner in which child support is calculated.
Child support is intended to be used by the nonpaying parent toward the maintenance and needs of the child. These needs include housing, clothing, transportation and entertainment. In addition to child support parents may also agree to share the cost of other expenses not included in child support order including extracurricular activities, unreimbursed medical expenses and tuition.
Child support may be paid directly by the payor parent to the payee parent, or directly to the Probation division of the county in which the payee resides. Wage garnishment administered through the Probation division is also an available option for the payment of child support. The support award is subject to cost of living adjustment review every two years and may also be modified based on a change in circumstances of a parent.