Child support can be a fairly complicated issue to deal with, even at the best of times. But at the worst? Well, it can be a complete nightmare. Some face issues with a spouse who is entirely unwilling or unable to pay what they owe, while others simply face issues with having no idea how, exactly, child support payments are calculated in New Jersey. In order to help make the child support issue a little less frustrating, we will go over those calculations in this article.
Understanding how child support is calculated in New Jersey
Now, the first thing we need to establish is that every state is going to handle laws in its own ways. While some states may coincidentally handle things the same way, you cannot use, say, Missouri’s handling of child support in order to determine how child support is calculated in New Jersey. Doing this is going to, at best, delay you from figuring out what you need to know, and worse, create false expectations. Of course, there are other factors that may lead to someone being misled about how child support is calculated in New Jersey, such as misunderstandings derived from media representation of the subject. Make sure that you do not take anything less than a trusted, reliable source of information to help determine the way it’s calculated. One of the best ways to do this is to consult a child support lawyer, who will help walk you through the more complex stuff. First off, one thing a LOT of people ask is about certain factors that may come up during determining child support. One of the most common examples of these is gender and marital status, and to get straight to the point on those, neither of those affects how much a person must pay in child support. Ultimately, it is a matter of them contributing the financial support that they owe, and neither of those increase or reduce that inherently.
Another topic that child support lawyers are asked about has to do with the involvement of the parent who is expected to pay child support in the child’s upbringing. Some believe that in New Jersey, if a person spends equal or greater time with the child, that they are not obligated to pay that child support. This is not true, and it is important to discard this notion before you get the wrong idea. That being said, don’t use that as a justification to not be involved in your child’s life as much as is feasible. Children struggle in single-parent households, and not because the parent is inadequate. Rather, it is due to the fact that with only one parent taking care of a child, that is less time that they can spend on taking care of the kid. So by stepping up where you can, you can ensure that your child receives adequate development and is not set back in their upbringing. As far as child support goes with respect to people other than the two parents of the child, they are not obligated legally to provide support for the child.
The purpose of child support is, as the name suggests, to support a child. As we discussed in the previous paragraph, children struggle in a single-parent household due to the lack of attention, but also the lack of financial support to get them the kinds of things that a two-parent household may be able to offer. Divorce and breaking up are entirely understandable processes; some relationships simply do not work, some become toxic environments, and some even involve a mutual falling out of love. Ending these kinds of relationships are all well and good, but when there is a kid involved, that is a bit of a different story. After all, the kid is not responsible for the dissolution of a relationship, and hurting their growth and putting them in a financially unstable situation is simply unfair to them. Of course, not every person expected to pay child support is going to be able to provide the same amount of support as a parent that is more financially secure.
To figure out how child support is calculated in New Jersey, the theoretical combined monthly income of both partners is factored in. The goal of this is to basically make sure that the child receives the same level of financial support as they would have had if the two of you stayed together. But that is not all that is done; after this, the average income of a New Jersey family will be examined, and the average amount of money spent on children will be used as a guideline to determine how much will be expected to be spent. After this, they will then go over how much money is earned by each partner. Finally, they will examine how much each partner contributes. While spending time with the child does not negate your financial responsibility, it can make an impact on any decision that seeks to determine how much you contribute to the well-being of your child. For example, if the parent who is receiving the child support is the one responsible for paying for the child’s healthcare plan, the parent who is contributing the child support will be expected to pay more. On the other hand, if the parent providing child support is helping pay for the child’s schooling, that would justify reducing the payment they put in appropriately. Not all contributions to the child are going to be financial ones, however; after all, time is money, and the more time a parent invests into the child, the less time they can devote to earning money. So by spending more time with the child, may influence exactly how much someone is expected to pay.
However, there is more to figuring out what is owed than simply what you get on your paycheck. After all, there are a number of expenses that are mandatory, or that you are expected to pay as part of the law or as part of the policy, and those need to be taken into account when determining child support. For example, taxes and things such as mandatory payments like union dues are both things that will be up for consideration. Various incomes will be examined, boiling down to any form of income you take in, especially consistent incomes (since this will give the people calculating the child support an idea of what the person responsible for it are capable of doing month-to-month). Some may be led to believe that rent is covered under mandatory costs, but the guideline to child support does not in fact count it. It may seem confusing, given the fact that people need to be able to have housing, but the reason why it works like this is that they want to avoid having to worry about people trying to use loopholes in order to overspend on housing, diverting money from potential child support payments. There are also factors to do with overnight stays, mainly how often the child spends time at each household. Credits are granted to the parents for these child expenses, which include fixed expenses necessary to make the domicile livable for both the parent and the child, such as providing a space for the child and providing utilities etc. Variable expenses account for the expenses that are incurred in order to directly support the child, such as food and transportation. Finally, certain expenses, known as controlled expenses, are to do with more inconsistent expenses, like clothing and entertainment. Another common question that comes up is the presence of a stepparent. While this stepparent can provide for the child’s well-being (and arguably should), they do not have a legal obligation to do so.