Child Support Calculation Basics

Children are a great source of joy and pride to their families.  There are few joys in life like helping your child to grow and thrive.  Together with expanding your family, however, comes often significant expenses.  Any child support attorney will tell you that the amount of child support ordered at the conclusion of a child custody or support matter can come as a surprise to the parents.  If you are facing a child support case, it can be very helpful to have a grasp of the basic rules behind child support calculation.

Public Policy for Child Support

During or after an acrimonious split up, a paying parent may wonder why he or she must give money to the other parent for their shared children.  The paying parent may think that the receiving parent has enough income to get by without the paying parent’s help.  However, New Jersey law does not see it that way.

The New Jersey legislature has determined that it is the duty of both parents to provide financial support for the children until the children reach the age of majority, and sometimes beyond.  The legislature has determined the child has the right to share in both parents’ incomes.  This reasoning applies regardless of whether the child was born during a marriage or out of wedlock.  The law provides that a child should not be punished or lose out on opportunities simply because the parents do not reside together.

Income Shares Model

Although many states take different types of approaches to calculating child support, New Jersey has adopted what is called the “income shares model.”  The court will use the income of both parents to determine the proportion of the parents’ income that would be used to support a child if the parents cohabitated.  In other words, if one parent makes significantly more than the other, then that parent should be responsible for a larger proportion of the expense associated with the child’s upbringing.

Your child support attorney will pay close attention not only to the court’s decision about your income amount, but also that of the other parent.  Especially where a parent has spent years as a stay-at-home parent or is claiming far less income than he or she actually generates, your family law attorney may make an argument that the court should use a different income amount than that claimed by the other parent.

Other Expenses

As mentioned above, the original child support calculation will be done using both parents’ incomes.  That said, there are other factors the court will take into account.  If either parent is already under a court order to pay child support for other children, this will be factored into the calculation.  In addition, the amount of parenting time each parent enjoys with the child can make a difference.  In essence, the more parenting time enjoyed by a parent, the less child support he or she may have to pay.

There are even other expenses that may be added to the child support amount.  One of the most common is work-related childcare.  If the primary residential parent must put the child in daycare or afterschool care so he or she can work, then those costs may be added to the child support.  Health insurance paid for the child can also be factored in, regardless of whether that is paid by the custodial or non-custodial parent.

Child Support Obligation Changes

Parents should note that the child support obligation set at the time of the divorce or separation will not necessarily remain the same forever.  Your child support may change for a variety of purposes in the future, ranging from a change in your job, elimination of work-related childcare, or you have another child in another relationship.  You should discuss possible reasons to change your child support order with your family law attorney so you can be aware of the type of situations you should look out for.

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We have extensive experience helping our clients with all types of child support issues, ranging from setting them originally to modifying them years down the road.  Call us today to talk about your child and your child support order.


Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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