Both parents have a responsibility to support their children financially. When parents separate, whether or not they were ever married, the Parent of Primary Residence is eligible to receive child support from the Parent of Alternate Residence. In shared parenting situations where the parents have equal custody, there may still be a child support obligation if there is a disparity in the parents’ incomes.
The Amount of Child Support – The Child Support Guidelines
The amount of child support is normally calculated by using the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, which consider a number of factors to include:
- The number of children and age of the children;
- The amount of each parent’s income;
- Whether one or both parents pay or receive alimony;
- Whether one or both parents pay mandatory retirement contributions;
- Whether one or both parents pay union dues;
- Whether one or both parents have other dependents from other relationships;
- The amount paid for work-related childcare;
- The amount paid for health insurance attributable to the child(ren);
- Whether the child(ren) receives government benefits; and
- The amount of overnights each parent has with the child(ren).
Modification of Child Support
Child support can be modified in New Jersey. Child support may be reviewed every three years or based upon a substantial change in circumstances, such as a loss of employment, a substantial raise or pay cut for either parent, the temporary or permanent disability of a parent or the child involved has new and different needs than were contemplated when the original amount was set.
Only the court can change a mandated child support payment, so any modification would have to be submitted to a judge. If both spouses agree on a change, it is usually a pretty simple process. When you don’t agree, the request should be submitted by your family law attorney for a hearing. The spouse who wants to make a change over the other’s objection has the burden to show what has changed and why a different amount (higher or lower) should be required. Temporary changes might be the result of a medical emergency, a change in employment status or a short-term economic hardship on the part of the receiving parent.
Termination of Child Support
Generally, the law in New Jersey requires a person paying child support to make those payments until any of these apply:
- The child is 18 years of age or older, out of high school and is not in college or a vocational program on a full-time basis;
- The child is working full-time and becomes self-supportive;
- The child enters active-duty military;
- The child gets married;
- The child has a child of his or her own;
- The parent’s parental rights are terminated through adoption or another legal process; or
- The child dies.
- The child turns 23 years of age.
Consequences of Nonpayment
Failure to stay current on your child support obligation can result in the garnishment of your wages, interception of your tax refund, suspension of a professional license or driver’s license and even incarceration. If you have lost your job or suffer a disability, you are still legally responsible for paying child support unless and until a court order is entered which modifies or terminates your child support.
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