Child support is an area that many couples tend to fight over in a divorce. While both parties may love their children, neither party necessarily wants to cut a check to the ex spouse. Understanding more about how New Jersey child support works may make the divorce, time sharing, and child support negotiations easier for you.
Why Pay Child Support?
The reason why child support exists is that both parents had a child together, and thus undertook not just the emotional, but also the financial responsibilities of raising that child. That joint obligation should continue, even after the dissolution of the marriage.
When one parent is physically with the child, that parent is necessarily paying the bills related to the child, from food to the electric bill to the child’s clothing. The parent who is not with the child should contribute to those expenditures.
Calculating Child Support
The first step to determine a child support obligation is to ask whether you have the child for fewer than two overnights per week. If so, then the child support guidelines for sole parenting should be used. There are separate guidelines for shared parenting, when you have the child for more than two overnights every week.
Either way, there is a form to fill out called child support guidelines that allows parents to calculate how much child support they will pay. Some of the forms go into some detail. For example, you will be able to deduct things like alimony, withheld taxes, union dues, or child support for kids of another marriage or another parent.
The total amount of support is based on the combined income of both parties (minus deductions). Each parents’ individual support amount is calculated on the amount of overnights that the parent has with the child. As a general rule, the more overnights a parent has, the less child support he or she will pay.
Why Parents Fight
The child support guidelines are only as accurate as the figures the parties put into them, and this is where most of the fighting comes in. A party may want to put in a smaller income number, or a greater number of deductions, to lower his or her child support obligation.
Judges do have discretion to make adjustments, which is another area about which parents in a divorce tend to fight. For example, a judge could raise the child support obligation if a child is handicapped and has special needs.
The parent that is paying the support will have the amount deducted from his or her paycheck, when possible. Deduction is not a “penalty” for non-payment, but is actually the preferred method of making sure the support is paid. However, an alternate method of payment, such as electronic payments, can be arranged if both parties agree.
Let us help you with child support, custody and timesharing matters. Contact The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC for help and guidance in your family law case.