Family law: Child support
Child support is a means to ensure that in the event of separation or divorce of parents, the child is sufficiently provided for to ensure their physical and mental well-being. It is the responsibility of both the parents to support their child financially irrespective of the custody arrangements. Even if one parent has the primary physical custody of the child, the non-custodial parent is required by the law to provide child support for the child’s welfare.
The New Jersey court of law takes into account various factors while calculating the child support amount but primarily follows the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. It includes a formula to calculate the approximate child support amount. The formula considers the incomes and earnings of each parent as well as the number of children they have to support. Depending on the custody arrangements and parenting plans, the court uses worksheets to determine the child support for each parent. The appropriate worksheet is chosen between sole parenting worksheet and shared parenting worksheet, and the adjustments in the different expenses are made accordingly. Further adjustments can be made for additional expenses such as health insurance, reimbursed health care, visitation transportation, or other special needs pending court approval.
Sole parenting worksheet is used when the child spends 100% of the time with the custodial parent or spends two overnights or less per week with the non-custodial parent. A shared parenting worksheet is used when the child spends more than two overnights per week with the non-custodial parent.
Child support award covers certain expenses, as stated under the guidelines. It covers; a) fixed costs, which include housing cost and other utilities, b) controlled costs, which include personal care, entertainment, clothing, and other miscellaneous things, and c) variable costs, which include transportation, food, and such.
Once ordered by the court, both parents are legally obligated to make the payments for child support on time. Failure to comply can lead to various consequences. The court has the authority and tools to enforce child support payments. Some of the ways the payments are enforced include:
- Withholding income
- Tax fund offset
- Seizure of assets
- License suspension
- Denying passport
If the faulty parent continues to deny payments, it can lead to the suspension of professional license and even incarceration. If the parent has legitimate reasons for falling behind on child support payments, it is in their best interest to have an experienced attorney advocate in the court on their behalf.
According to a new law passed on February 1, 2017, the child support is automatically terminated in New Jersey when the child reaches the age of 19, unless the custodial parent wishes to continue providing child support and file an application for the same in the court along with ‘sufficient proof’ of the reason for continuation.
Determining child support can be complicated. Bhuchar Law Firms’ New Jersey family law attorneys can help you guide through the process and represent your interests in the court regarding child support. We are here to provide you legal counsel based on your situation, whether it be to determine child support or modify existing arrangements because of change in circumstances.