The courts, in most cases, will utilize the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines to determine each parent’s child support obligation. The Child Support Guidelines calculate a parent’s child support obligations utilizing the parties’ respective incomes, alimony obligations, tax deductions, as well as various add-on expenses such as child care and/or health insurance costs in determining the appropriate award of support. The number of overnights a child or children spend with each parent is also a factor in determining the correct amount of the child support obligation. The Child Support Guidelines were developed utilizing research data to determine how much an intact family typically spends on their children in providing for their necessary expenses. It is very important for clients to provide accurate financial information, including all sources of income, child care expenses, and health insurance costs for their child(ren). In some instances, child support guidelines may not be applicable, such as in high-wage earning families, when a child has significant unreimbursed medical expenses, or if a child is attending underemployment or unemployment, which can present a challenge for the Court in determining the amount of support to be awarded. In those instances, retaining a knowledgeable and experienced attorney can be critical in obtaining a fair award of child support.
The Child Support Guidelines do not cover unreimbursed medical expenses above $250 per child per year. The custodial parent is responsible for the first $250 per child per year. After that expenditure, the parties share unreimbursed medical expenses in proportion to their incomes. Oftentimes, parents agree to share agreed-upon extra-curricular expenses for children’s activities in addition to the child support guidelines amount since the allocation for sports and activities within the guidelines is limited.
Michele E. D’Onofrio is a family lawyer in Warren, New Jersey and a partner with the law firm of Shimalla, Wechsler, Lepp & D’Onofrio, LLP.