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Calculating child support for each individual case in New Jersey requires starting with a basic child support allocation amount. This base child support amount takes into account how much of the total income each parent earns, and then making adjustments for other factors such as the amount of time the child spends with each parent. Child support calculations can be complicated and the courts have created guidelines to assist in the matter.
The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, contained in New Jersey Court Rule 5:6A and Appendix IX, establish a formula that yields an accurate base calculation of child support payments for the majority of New Jersey parents. Appendix IX includes a table of basic support amounts based on the number of children in a family and the parents’ combined net weekly income.
The Guidelines take into account three different categories of expenses when making adjustments for parenting time. These include:
- Fixed expenses. Primarily housing costs, such as rent or mortgage and utility payments;
- Controlled expenses. The cost of items such as clothing, personal care products or services, most entertainment and most miscellaneous items; and
- Variable expenses. Expenditures within the control of the parent with whom the child is currently staying, such as food, transportation, and occasional entertainment.
Sole Parenting and Shared Parenting Child Support Calculations
Which categories of expense will be adjusted in the Guideline formula, and by how much, depends on the specific parenting plan that the parents have agreed upon, or that the court has ordered. The Guidelines include a Sole Parenting Worksheet and a Shared Parenting Worksheet, and the division of parenting time under the parenting plan determines the best choice of worksheet in each child support case. A sole parenting child support calculation is usually appropriate when children spend no more than two overnights per week with the noncustodial parent, and a shared parenting calculation is usually appropriate if children spend more than two overnights per week with each parent.
The sole parenting calculation includes an adjustment for the noncustodial parent’s variable expenses during visitation periods. The shared parenting child support calculations include an adjustment for both variable and fixed expenses. Both worksheets allow adjustments for additional expenses required for necessary work-related child care, children’s health insurance, certain health care expenses, and in some cases additional extraordinary expenses. In any situation where the worksheet calculations are inappropriate, either parent can request an exception. For example, parents who share time exactly equally can request an adjustment for controlled expenses as well as for variable and fixed expenses.
Determining an Accurate Amount of Child Support
The New Jersey child support calculations and guidelines are complex, and calculating an accurate support amount can be challenging. In addition, there are many circumstances justifying adjustments to the Guideline calculations. For more information on using the Guidelines, see our FAQ section: How is Child Support Calculated in New Jersey?
In cases where the Guideline formula is inadequate, New Jersey child support is governed by state statute, as well as any case law that may be applicable to the particular situation. Ensuring that child support is calculated accurately is an important aspect of ensuring that you and your children are economically protected. At Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group, LLC, our attorneys are experienced in applying the New Jersey guidelines and evaluating all important factors that may impact on an accurate child support determination. Call us today to schedule an initial consultation: (888) 888-0919.