Janet Porro, a family lawyer in Pequannock, answers:
Support is an important aspect of any matter involving a marriage, partnership or a couple who has had a child together.
Child Support Guidelines exist in New Jersey and New York which assist individuals in arriving at a support figure anticipated to cover certain costs as to the child(ren) which a couple has together. The relational status of the parents (married, unmarried, separated or dating) does not impact upon the amount of support.
Child support is calculated taking into consideration a number of factors such as the income of the parties, or in the instance of where 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. The Child Support Guidelines can be deviated from depending upon certain circumstances such as a child with special needs, parents whose income exceeds the guidelines or other economic contributions made by one parent or another.
There are a number of instances under which child support may be re- viewed, such as a substantial change of circumstance including an increase or decrease in one parent’s income, the emancipation of a child, or merely the passage of time.
Other aspects which are considered in calculating child support include medical insurance premiums, contributions to mandatory retirement plans, expenses such as union dues and whether other children exist from another relationship who must also be supported.
Alimony is another mechanism of support geared specifically towards a spouse so as 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.
Issues which factor into 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, the age of the parties, the earning ability of the parties and medical conditions. Many people are of the belief that if the breakup of the relationship was the fault of the other party that said individual must pay alimony. Such is not necessarily the case. Fault is only one small factor that a court will consider in awarding alimony.