Articles Posted in Child Support


Parents owe a duty to their children to provide financial support. The issue of child support often is a point of contention in divorces and may remain so for years. The person paying support may attempt to reduce or eliminate payments through acts taken in bad faith. Similarly, the person receiving support may take inappropriate action when payments are not received. Here are several actions that responsible parents should and should not take involving the payment of child support.

Don’t quit a job to reduce support payments. Child support payments are based on the income of both parents. Once a support amount is determined, that amount is split in relation to each parent’s percentage of combined income. A vindictive former spouse having sufficient savings will sometimes quit a job or switch to a lower paying job to reduce his or her percentage of total income and, as a result, the support payment. This may simply make financial matters worse, because the desired support reduction may not occur.

The court may impute income to a person who is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. This means the court can set the income level used to calculate the support payment based on prior wages, work experience and comparable jobs available if the court determines a person intentionally reduced his income to avoid paying support. Someone hoping to reduce a support payment by reducing his net income from $3800 to $2500 may unexpectedly find he will still have to pay support based on the higher income amount but with fewer resources to make the payment. Continue Reading →

The child support guidelines of New Jersey are designed to provide consistency and certainty in family law matters. There is sometimes conflict between the parents, particularly if the parent paying child support believes that the recipient spouse is using that child support for frivolous things, like shopping trips or vacations. But the truth is, if the recipient parent is covering the essentials and expenses required by law, they can spend their money on whatever else they want. So, what does child support cover in NJ?

This question is basically asking, what does the child support I receive (or pay) cover, and what should be the other party’s responsibility to cover? It is important to understand what does child support cover in NJ to appropriately budget and ensure the child is taken care of. The guidelines apply to parents who earn a combined net income of up to $187,200.00. Any couples who exceed this amount will still have the guidelines applied, but an additional amount can be added, depending on multiple factors set forth under the child support statute.

Of course, child support covers the basics: food, clothing, and shelter are of course non-negotiable expenses when raising children. Food should be healthy and keep the children at an appropriate weight, but it does not necessarily allow regular meals at a fancy steak restaurant (unless the lifestyle of the child prior to the divorce incorporated these kinds of meals with some frequency). That is because if the parents can afford it, the court will consider the lifestyle to which the child had been accustomed to prior to the dissolution of the marriage when rendering child support orders. Clothing is another expense included in the calculation – which is a huge category. Clothing includes shoes, diapers, winter clothing, and accessories. It also includes maintenance of the clothing, such as cleaning sports uniforms or dance costumes. However, sports footwear is not included in the calculation. Shelter includes everything from the mortgage, rental payments, and utilities to keep a comfortable roof over the head of the children. If you are starting to think that some of these expenses are arbitrary, you would be correct.  That’s why the question, ‘what does child support cover in NJ’ is so commonly asked by parents involved in a family law matter.  Continue Reading →

There is no question that parents owe their children a duty of support. The struggle between courts and parents alike is how long that duty needs to last. Most states agree that 19 years of age is the latest a parent is required to support the child, including New Jersey. However, in New Jersey, emancipation can occur once the child turns 18 or becomes financially independent, in which case the parents would file papers requesting the child be emancipated. But what about when the child decides to seek higher education – should the parents be prepared to pay for this? Is there a right for a child to be educated? One recent case, entitled Ricci v. Ricci, explores this issue in greater detail, and in more interesting circumstances.

In this case, parents of the child, Caitlyn, agreed to emancipate her when she left her mother’s home to live with her grandparents at 19. Having been divorced since Caitlyn was 4, both parties filed a consent order terminating child support. Caitlyn intervened, asking to vacate the emancipation order and also requesting an order for her parents to provide funds so she could attend college. The appellate court goes over the record at length, with both intervenor and the other parties disagreeing as to the family dynamics which led Caitlyn to live with her grandparents.

The mother alleged that Caitlyn smoked marijuana, had trouble with alcohol, was sexually promiscuous and essentially failed to follow the rules imposed on her in her mother’s home. Caitlyn stated she simply did not fit in with either her mother or father’s new family, and to ease tensions, decided to live with her grandparents. Caitlyn’s father corroborated this view, stating Caitlyn had not spoken to either parent for over six months, missed family birthdays, and asserted that he opposed her moving in with his parents, as he himself was estranged from them and felt they were a root cause for Caitlyn’s rebellion. Continue Reading →

When a judge calculates the amount of child support that a parent must pay for a child, many different expenses are factored into that calculation. Certainly things like food, clothing and shelter are included, but additional items such as transportation and entertainment area also considered. Sometimes there are additional expenses that a child can incur that are not necessarily contemplated when base child support payments are calculated. The Guidelines are written in such a way that judges are allowed the discretion to make adjustments to the level of support if necessary on a case-by-case basis, and a judge did so in a recent child support case holding that a parent may need to pay additional child support in NJ if the supported child is especially gifted or talented in the field of the arts.

P.S. v. J.S.

In the November 2016 case of P.S. v. J.S., the judge dealt with the question of whether the child in question should be considered “gifted” and thus have the child support her parent pays increased to provide additional money in order to pay for the expenses required to pursue her talent.

The parents in that case were in a dispute about the payment of expenses related to her acting activities. The Plaintiff currently pays the Defendant $113 per week in child support. The dispute here is that the Defendant wants the Plaintiff to pay additional funds as child support to help cover the cost of all extracurricular activities, “including but not limited to theater-related costs.” The Plaintiff objects to paying the additional support, arguing that those costs are already included in the child support that he pays. Continue Reading →

Mothers and fathers are responsible for ensuring that their children are provided with food, clothing and shelter, regardless of the relationship of the parents. For this reason, the State of New Jersey takes the payment of child support very seriously and provides services and NJ child support case information to ensure that child support orders are paid.

In New Jersey, child support payments may be handled either by the probation department or may be paid directly to the other parent. Handling child support payments through the probation department using the NJKiDS system provided by the state is often a good idea for both parents. The parent paying support benefits because a record of payments is automatically generated, providing proof of your payment. Paying the other parent directly creates a potential risk of not getting credit for payments made. For the parent receiving support, the record of payments made is also beneficial because missed payments will be clearly shown, and the probation department will automatically be notified to begin enforcement of the child support order.

New Jersey Kids Deserve Support (NJKiDS)

The New Jersey Kids Deserve Support (NJKiDS) is a state-run computer system that contains NJ child support case information that parents can access by phone or online. It contains a record of the information about your child support case, including a record of past 13 months of child support payments and any major case events that have taken place. Using this system is beneficial to the parent receiving child support payments because if a payment is missed, it will automatically take action to enforce your child support order. Continue Reading →

The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines allow the courts to determine the level of financial support that a child with divorced parents is entitled to. The concept of child support exists because it is the philosophy of the state that a child should still benefit from constant financial support of both parents even if the child’s parents are not together. The guidelines attempt to ensure that a child with divorced parents is entitled to the same financial opportunities as a child of an intact family.

The guidelines are used by the courts to both create the initial child support order and modify orders if necessary. The court will apply the guidelines to each family situation and will presume that it is a proper arrangement unless one of the parents proves otherwise.

What Expenses Are Covered By Child Support?

It comes as no surprise to parents that children can cost a lot of money, but the question for the courts is how do we determine the actual amount? The following categories represent the things that a parent who receives child support will use that money to pay for. Continue Reading →

In March of 2016 the New Jersey case of Harrington v. Harrington was decided. The case deals with the retroactive modification of child support when a child is emancipated. In Harrington, the plaintiff and defendant had three unemancipated daughters, a twenty-year-old college student, a seventeen-year-old high school student planning to attend college, and a fifteen-year-old high school student, when they divorced in 2012.

The plaintiff agreed to pay $240 per week in unallocated child support. Unallocated child support is support that is not allocated as specific amounts of money per child, but rather one amount for all the children. In this case, that means that the $240 per week payment is not divided into ⅓ (or $80) per child.

In September 2014 the parties mutually agreed to emancipate the two eldest daughters, which typically means that the payment of child support would be recalculated. However, neither party sought to change the child support order, and the plaintiff continued to pay $240 per week in child support. Continue Reading →

The Child Support Guidelines apply to support for all children whose parents combined net income is between $8,840.00 annually ($170.00/week) and $187,200.00 annually ($3,600.00/week). The guidelines amount, within this span of income, is presumed to be the correct amount of child support, though there are reasons to deviate from guidelines, including but not limited to:

  • Educational expenses of the children
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses of either parent
  • One parent’s household having more than six children
  • Special needs of the child or children
  • Specific Shared Parenting arrangements that have a different set of Guidelines

Goals and Inclusions in Child Support Calculations

Child support is intended to cover certain expenses of the child, and is an obligation of both of the parents. The goal is supposed to be to afford the child the same opportunities that would have existed if the family remained together. The expenses to be covered by basic child support are:

  • Food, housing, clothing and transportation
  • Up to $250 of unreimbursed health care each year, per child
  • Entertainment
  • Various miscellaneous expenses

An interesting thing about child support is that there is a presumption that an increase in income of the payor results in an equal and simultaneous increase in the child or children’s needs. Continue Reading →

Whether you divorce by settlement agreement or a judge orders divorce terms after a trial, the resulting judgment is a legally binding court order. Your settlement agreement is incorporated into your judgment. If your ex doesn’t abide by its terms, either for custody or child support, you have a few options.

Problems With Child Support

If your ex isn’t paying child support, your easiest remedy is to sign up for your state’s child support services. State services collect from your ex, often through an income withholding order, so it’s more difficult for to fall behind with his payments in the first place. His employer must deduct his support from each of his paychecks and forward it to the state. The state then transmits the payments to you and keeps track. If your ex falls behind for such reasons as being out of work, the state may intercept his tax refund, report to the credit bureaus, or place liens against his property.

But state services can be slow because they often labor under a huge caseload. If you want your money sooner rather than later, you can take your ex back to court yourself. Your ex will have to appear before a judge and explain why he hasn’t paid. The judge may work with him if he’s suffered some financial hardship that genuinely prevents him from paying child support. This doesn’t mean the judge will vacate or erase the support terms of your divorce judgment so you won’t get paid. It means he’ll put a plan in place by which your ex can eventually catch up with his arrears (the unpaid balance he owes you) and get back on track. Continue Reading →

Under New Jersey law, emancipation of a child occurs when the dependent relationship between the parent and the child ends. The term emancipation is used largely in the context of child support, as the emancipation of a child signals the end of the requirement of a parent to pay child support. In the 2015 case of Llewelyn v. Shewchuk, the court answered the question of whether a child is emancipated when she chooses to live independently from either legal parent.

The facts of the Llewelyn case are interesting, as we typically see the parents as the parties bringing this type of litigation, but here we have the child as the “appellant” in this particular case and the child’s father as the defendant. In 1994 James Shewchuk (the defendant) adopted two-year-old Adrianna (the appellant) when he married her mother (who is the plaintiff in this case). Continue Reading →

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