Call 24/7 to Book a Free Consultation (732) 709-7757

Child Support Lawyer in NJ

It is especially difficult having to go through a divorce case children are involved. As parents, you would always want the best for your child. Paying child support is one of the ways to help secure your children's financial future. However, child support issues can be complex and difficult to understand. Before contacting a New Jersey child support attorney, it would be helpful to have answers to common questions about New Jersey child support.

Obligation to pay child support

Under New Jersey law, the noncustodial parent will generally have to pay child support to the custodial parent. When both parents share child custody, both of them will have an obligation to support the child.

How long does New Jersey law require me to pay child support?

In New Jersey, the obligation of the noncustodial parent to pay child support or other medical support will last until such time the child is emancipated.

In 2017, the law was amended to allow for an extension of time in determining child support obligations. The obligation to pay child support may last until age 23, for cases in which the child is pursuing higher education or is afflicted with medical conditions or disabilities. Any extension beyond this time frame must be granted by the court or by the agreement of both parents.

Emancipation of the child must be granted by the court. If the court reviews the case and grants the emancipation of the child, child support will end from that point in time prospectively onwards.

The thought process behind the money provided is to guarantee, or provide for, the kid's financial well-being until he is of age. Thereafter, as a grown adult, the kid should be able to provide for himself/herself without relying on the parents.

How does New Jersey law calculate child support?

The Child Support Guidelines is a tool used in New Jersey family law. It aims to provide the court with relevant economic information to assist in calculating the appropriate child support amount to be paid. The Guidelines are premised on three principles:

  • Economic support to the children is the continuous duty of both parents
  • Children are entitled to share in the benefit afforded by the current income of both parents
  • Children should not be economic victims of divorces or a lack of parental support

The Guidelines aim to simulate the percentage of parental net income that is spent on raising children in intact families. Except for good cause reasons, the child support guidelines will be used to calculate the appropriate child support to be paid out for the well-being of the children.

While the exact considerations are lengthy, concise versions of the guidelines are available in the form of parenting worksheets. The shared parenting worksheet is for custodial parents who share physical custody of a child. The sole parenting worksheet is for any arrangement where a child spends less than two overnights per week at one parent's house. Some factors taken into account in these worksheets include:

  • Each parent's income, in gross and net amount; whether one or both parents are high wage earners
  • Parents various income sources
  • Background of the parents, such as employment skills
  • Number of overnights shared with each parent
  • Children's share of health insurance premium
  • Court-approved extraordinary expenses
  • The number of children involved
  • Public assistance received by the parents, if any

Generally, the finalized amount of child support will consist of three types of payments: fixed costs, variable costs and controlled costs.

  • Fixed costs: these are costs that a child will need to have her fundamental well-being protected. They are incurred even if the child is not residing with the parent. It includes housing expenses, health insurance, utility bills, etc.
  • Variable costs: these are costs that a child will need to have a greater range of satisfaction. They are incurred only when the child is residing with the parent. It includes food expenses, entertainment, transportation, etc.
  • Controlled costs: these are costs that the primary caretaker parent of the child will incur for the child. It includes clothing, childcare expenses, and miscellaneous items, etc.

One thing to note is that the court recognizes that different children have different needs. While some children may require more entertainment expenses, which falls under variable costs, some may instead require more medical expenses to be paid out under fixed costs. Therefore, the court will take into account individual circumstances and award the final amount accordingly.

The Child Support Guidelines are available on the New Jersey court website. Before the final child support sum is determined, New Jersey child support lawyers will be able to interpret the guidelines and estimate the final amount you will have to payout. They will also be able to represent your interests and explain to the court what is a justifiable amount.

Child Support Settlement through Mediation

While the Child Support Guidelines provide a good estimate of the amount of child support to be paid out, it is ultimately a tool meant for the judge's use in deciding the final amount awarded. Parties will have little control over the final child support order when a Judge decides the issue. The parent paying child support may sometimes be high-wage earners. This can result in a burdensome child support obligation that paying parents are unable to fulfill.

A solution to these situations is mediation, in which both parties can employ the services of an agreed-upon mediator to help decide on child support settlements. Mediation is a process where the parents can collaboratively discuss a suitable or agreeable amount of child support payments. During mediation, child support lawyers do not need to be involved. Parents can cooperate and discuss amicably what is best for their children. After all, the well-being and financial support of the children is a shared duty by a parent and their former spouse. Reaching equitable solutions should be the end goal of the parents so that both parents are willing and happy to contribute to the future of the children.

Enforcement of Child Support

There may be a child support case where the paying parent has stopped or missed child support, such as missing a payment or having failed to pay unreimbursed medical expenses. When the child support obligations are breached, the parent receiving child support can seek child support enforcement. There is a New Jersey department, the Probation Services Division, dedicated to enforcing child support orders. They use the court process to enforce unpaid child support orders. Some of the methods include:

  • Withholding the income of the parent who pays child support
  • Enforcement hearings before the court
  • Seizure of cash or cash-equivalent assets in the bank account
  • Intercepting state or federal tax refunds
  • Suspended driver's, entertainment, or recreational licenses
  • Report judgments
  • Credit bureau reporting

The Probation program provided can also perform the following services for parents:

  • Locate parents who are obliged to pay child support, also known as obligors
  • Establish paternity
  • Collect payments on behalf of the receiving parent, also known as obliges

In enforcement hearings, only the parent making the child support payments is required to attend. It may still be in the best interests of the other parent to attend. The court will make a determination on how to enforce child support in these hearings.

The payment of child support should not be missed. Consequences can include a lowered credit rating and affected ability to buy or sell real property.

How do I get my child support lowered in NJ?

When a child support order is made, it is made to last through all situations. These child support payments should not be missed. Nonetheless, New Jersey child support laws recognize that there may be unforeseen situations where the paying parent experiences changed circumstances. This includes:

  • Going through a serious illness
  • A deterioration in economic circumstances, such as unemployment

There are other factors or legal circumstances that the parent paying child support can bring up. The first step taken to lower the amount one parent pays is to speak to the other parent. There can be negotiations done by one parent and the former spouse, without the presence of any child support attorney. The main consideration here will still be what is best for their children.

There may be situations where both parents cannot come to an agreement on modifying the existing support order. Nonetheless, if the reasons why a parent wants to modify child support are valid, the parent can request a hearing from the New Jersey superior court. The parent can then look for law offices well-versed in family law matters to hire a child support attorney. The attorney will represent the parent to seek a lowered child support amount.

The court may again refer to the child support guidelines and determine a more suitable amount. They can both decrease or increase the child support paid by the parent based on any new circumstances or additional information presented by the New Jersey child support lawyers.

What are other situations in which a modification can be made?

The support sum can also be modified every two years. This is to adjust for inflation. Based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the average price of a basket of goods, the child support can be lowered or increased to account for differences in the average cost of living. In other words, if the prices of goods have gone up to an amount that the support can no longer cover, the court will adjust and account for it.

A modification can also be made if there are changed circumstances shown about the children. As the children grow older or depending on changes in their health, the necessary spending will also change accordingly. For example, if the child comes down with certain long-term illnesses, then the receiving parent will require more money to account for medical expenses. These claims will also be reviewed by the court and determined as necessary.

Ultimately, the court-ordered support amount is an amount determined to provide the best financial support for the child. It can be lowered or changed if there truly is a good reason for it. A good child support lawyer will be able to advise on this.

Can child support arrears be forgiven in NJ?

Even when the child support order is modified or discontinued, past owed child support will still have to be repaid.

Similarly, when a child is emancipated and future child support is halted, past arrears will still have to be paid out. Essentially, whatever has fallen due cannot be forgiven.

How do I file a request to modify child support in NJ?

There may be dissatisfaction regarding the child support orders or any child support issues that have arisen. For example, the parent paying out child support sums may be concerned that the money is not used for the kids, but is instead used for the receiving parent's own purposes. While the receiving parent is not required to prove how he or she is using the money, it may be a valid ground for a complaint.

In such situations, parents should consult a family law firm to speak with child support attorneys. You will receive a legal opinion on whether the current support order can be changed or modified. After that, New Jersey child support lawyers will be able to file for a hearing and present your interests to the court.

Speak with a NY and NJ child support attorney

We are a family law firm that provides a range of legal services, including having experienced New Jersey child support lawyers. We pride ourselves on a harmonious attorney-client relationship. Every single one of our New Jersey child support attorneys will give you sound advice on any question you may have. Speak to us today.

Related Articles:

What Does Child Support Cover in New Jersey?

How Much is Child Support in NJ?

How Is Child Support Calculated in New Jersey?

NJ Family Law: Paying Child Support to Multiple Families

Child Support FAQ

Contact Us Today

Villani & DeLuca, P.C. is committed to answering your questions about Divorce & Family Law, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, and DWI & Traffic Law issues in New Jersey. We offer a Free Consultation and we'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.