How do child support and alimony work?

By Janet L. Porro
October 13, 2014
NJ FAQs/Alimony and Spousal Support

Child support is calculated by taking into consideration a number of factors such as the income of the parties – or if one parent does not work or is underemployed, what that parent is capable of earning (imputed income) – the age of the child, and the amount of time a parent spends with the child. Other factors include medical insurance premiums, contributions to mandatory retirement plans, expenses such as union dues, and whether the payor spouse is also supporting children from another relationship.

You can deviate from the Guidelines under certain circumstances: such as a child with special needs, parents whose income exceeds the guidelines, or other economic contributions made by one parent or the other. The relational status of the parents (married, unmarried, separated or dating) does not have an impact upon the amount of support.

Child support can be reviewed if the status quo has changed: a substantial change of circumstance (such as an increase or decrease in one parent’s income), or a child becoming emancipated, or merely the passage of time.

Alimony is geared specifically towards a spouse in order to enable that individual to maintain a standard of living comparable to that which was enjoyed during the course of the relationship. There are limited circumstances where support will be ordered for individuals who were not married but lived together.

Factors considered in an alimony award include the length of the relationship, whether one partner gave up a career for the relationship or to raise the parties’ children; the disparity in income between the parties; both parties’ ages, earning ability, and medical conditions. Many people believe that if one party caused the breakup of the relationship, then he/she must pay alimony to the wronged spouse. This is not necessarily the case: fault is only one small factor that a court will consider in awarding alimony.


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October 13, 2014
Categories:  FAQs

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