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Calculating Child Support in Cases of High-Income Families

Vincent DeLuca - Certified Matrimonial LawyerIn the case of the famous New York Giant’s football player, Michael Strahan’s divorce, the court analyzed this very issue. In Strahan v. Strahan, the court determined that in calculating child support for high-income families, a meaningful analysis should be taken by the custodial parents when determining the children’s needs. In such instances, the courts are required to make the determination as to whether the expenses claimed by the custodial parent are reasonable. The Appellate Division had previously articulated a guideline that “no child, no matter how wealthy the parents, needs to be provided with more than three ponies.” Isaacson v. Isaacson, 348 N.J. Super. 560, 582 (App. Div. 2002). This case is noteworthy in that any and all family law litigants must be made aware of the fact that the judge will not automatically award every requested expense in situations where the parties have an abundance of discretionary income.

Ability to Pay is Not the Issue with High-Income Parents

In the context of high-income parents whose ability to pay is not an issue, “the dominant guideline for consideration is the reasonable needs of the children, which must be addressed in the context of the standard of living of the parties. The needs of the children must be the centerpiece of any relevant analysis.” Isaacson, 348 N.J. Super. at 581. The consideration of needs must include the age and health of the children — with the understanding that infants’ needs are less than those of teenagers — as well as any assets or income of the children.

Unique Problems in Determining Wealthy Children’s Actual “Needs”

Determining a child’s “needs” in high-income earning families presents “unique problems”. Isaacson, 348 N.J.Super. at 582. First, a balance must be struck between reasonable needs, which reflect lifestyle opportunities, while at the same time precluding an inappropriate windfall to the child or even in some cases infringing on the legitimate right of either parent to determine the appropriate lifestyle of a child. This latter consideration involves a careful balancing of interests reflecting that a child’s entitlement to share in a parent’s good fortune does not deprive either parent of the right to participate in the development of an appropriate value system for a child. This is a critical tension that may develop between competing parents. Ultimately, the needs of a child in such circumstances also call to the forefront the best interests of a child. Isaacson, 348 N.J.Super. at 582.

Contact Vincent DeLuca, Esq. – a High Net Worth Divorce Attorney

The law office of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. has extensive experience in handling divorce cases involving high net worth individuals and child support issues. If you have any questions or wish to discuss any aspect of child support laws in the State of New Jersey, please feel free to contact Villani & DeLuca, P.C. at 732-965-3350 for a free consultation. Villani & DeLuca, P.C. represents families throughout Monmouth County and Ocean County New Jersey.