Children should not be financially impacted by their parents’ decision to separate. In New Jersey, parents are required by law to support their children, whether or not they are in a sole or shared parenting situation. Child support laws in the state are complex. If your relationship with your child’s other parent is ending, contact an attorney at Dunne, Dunne & Cohen, LLC. Attorneys F.R. "Chip" Dunne, III, Leonard B. Cohen, and Frederick R. Dunne, Jr., have more than 50 combined years practicing in family law. With convenient locations, including an office in Hoboken, NJ, we can meet the varied needs of clients throughout the state.
An Overview of Child Support Laws in New Jersey
Child support laws in the state follow a strict formula, known as the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines follow an “Income Shares Model” of support. Simply put, the formula calculates the amount of total support parents would spend on a child if the family were intact, divided proportionally between the parents according to how much income they each earn.
While child support guidelines may sound simple in theory, it is important for an attorney to ensure certain factors are carefully weighed and that the formula is properly applied.
The goal of child support is for children to receive the identical amount of parental income they would receive if both parents lived together. While this may sound simple in theory, it is important for an attorney to ensure certain factors are carefully weighed and that the formula is properly applied.
How Shared vs. Sole Parenting Factors In
In New Jersey, there are very exact parameters used to distinguish between sole and shared parenting:
If you are the custodial parent and your child spends fewer than 28 percent of his or her time (less than 104 nights in a year) with the non-custodial parent, it is considered a sole parenting arrangement.
In this arrangement, the sole parent will receive a larger share of the total available income for support than they would in a shared parenting arrangement. This is because the courts presume the parent will be paying larger direct costs to raise the child, and taking on higher fixed expenses.
If you are the custodial parent and your child spends more than 28 percent of his or her time (104 or more nights per year) with the non-custodial parent, it is considered shared parenting.
In these cases, the parent who spends the majority of the time with the child will receive a smaller fraction of the total available income than they would in a sole parenting arrangement.
You can estimate how much child support a judge might order by using the sole parenting worksheet or the shared parenting worksheet. When a parent seeks to either establish or modify child support, the court requires these worksheets to be completed. Alternatively, you can get a rough estimate using a child support calculator. It is important to keep in mind that these are rough estimates and that the final determination will be made in court.
Terminating or Modifying Arrangements
There are circumstances in which the court may either modify or terminate child support agreements. A court may modify an order if there has been a change in circumstances that is material and ongoing.
While state law does not identify a specific age at which a parent’s obligation to support their child ceases, child support guidelines do not apply to children above 18 years old who have graduated high school. Support will terminate automatically in the event a support order includes a specific date or event of termination. However, the courts will sometimes order a parent to contribute support for a child above 18 years old if they are attending college full-time.
Put Your Family's Best Interests First
Child support rules can be complicated. You need an attorney with an in-depth understanding of how to file modifications for child support, and who knows how to enforce and monitor payments. The attorneys at Dunne, Dunne & Cohen can help you navigate the process. Contact the firm online or call (732) 955-0337 to schedule a consultation.