The court must consider several factors when calculating the amount of child support someone must pay each month to the child's custodial parent such as the income of the defendant, income of the custodian and, most importantly, the needs of the child. When someone is required to pay child support to multiple families, the issue becomes even more complicated. These issues need to be weighed carefully by the court in order to produce an equitable solution for both families.
Harte v. Hand
The case of Harte v. Hand is unique for a couple of different reasons. For one, it explored how to equitably set child support in the event of obligations to more than one family. Also, it delved into how a change in a defendant's income affects the modification of child support payments when it falls below the self-support reserve, especially when considering multiple families.
In the case, the defendant was ordered to pay child support, but the court did not take previously existing child support payments into account when calculating the monthly amount. Therefore, the defendant appealed the decision in order to have the monthly child support payments reduced.
The self-support reserve is the amount of money that a parent paying child support must have available to his or herself in order to cover their own basic living expenses. Child support should be recalculated to represent the change when a parent's available funds drop below this amount. In New Jersey, this is calculated by calculating 105% of the U.S. Poverty Guidelines for one person. This number was $11,670 in 2014.
Harte v. Hand Appeal
The court of appeals realized that the original calculation made by the court was not appropriate. The Appellate Division found that the original ruling did not consider the child support payments that the defendant was already paying when calculating payments for the second child. In order to reach a more equitable decision, the court recalculated the defendant's obligations to better reflect the situation. The total amount of child support being paid each month was reduced, and the custodial parent with the lowest income was awarded the larger portion of the support for her child.
Contact a NJ Family Lawyer
If you need legal representation, contact a NJ family lawyer at Villani & DeLuca, P.C. An experienced attorney will assist you through a variety of areas of family law, including divorce proceedings, child custody and spousal support. Contact Villani & DeLuca today for a free consultation.