Child support is one of the most essential aspects of the divorce process when parents split up. It’s understandable to be confused about all the different processes that go into child support in New Jersey, which is why our Bergen County family law attorneys are here to answer some common questions you may have about NJ child support laws.
How is Child Support Determined?
Child support in New Jersey is determined by taking into consideration several different components. One of the biggest things that will determine child support is what the child’s needs are. However, there are other factors that must be considered as well, including:
- Are both parents employed and have steady incomes?
- What is the standard of living before the divorce was final?
- What is each spouse’s current financial situation?
- What are the child’s needs?
- The age and health of both spouses and the child
- The number of children in the household
- Each spouse’s earning capacity and education level
In addition to these factors, the court may also look at any other factor they find relevant to the case when making any decisions about child support.
What Does Child Support Cover?
When parents get divorced, often they will be concerned whether or not they will be able to cover their child’s needs without having two paychecks like they were previously accustomed to. Due to this, child support covers many of the child’s needs so that they have everything that is essential to survive while ensuring the parent can remain financially stable.
For example, child support may cover the following expenses:
- Cost of transportation
- Essential clothing items
- Personal care
- Entertainment and hobbies
- Team sports
- Other miscellaneous expenses
While clothing is covered under child support, it should only be used to purchase clothes that the child absolutely needs. Things like specialized footwear for sports, for example, would not be covered under child support.
Can Child Support Be Modified?
When child support is first ordered, the terms are essential for that exact moment in time. However, life doesn’t always stay the same. Parents may get new jobs or even lose their job, or they might enter into new relationships, and children may have new needs that were not foreseeable at the time of the agreement. Whatever the case may be, New Jersey family courts allow child support agreements to be modified.
In order for the court to grant a modification, the parent requesting the change must demonstrate that their circumstances have significantly changed at this moment and will not be changing anytime soon.
The court may consider one of the following reasons as a significant change that would warrant a modification of child support:
- One parent lost their home
- Either the child or one of the parents has become seriously injured or sick
- One parent took a large pay cut or lost their job
- Federal income tax laws have changed
- One parent has remarried or is living with someone new
- One parent got a job promotion or received a large sum of money, like an inheritance
The court will have the final say whether they believe the parent’s change in circumstances is so significant that changing child support is necessary. Some parents may agree to this on their own, and other times they may disagree. When the parents do not agree to change child support, the requesting parent may file a motion with the court to request a modification. If the case goes to court, there will need to be explicit proof that the parent and the child truly need to update their child’s support in order to uphold their standard of living.
Contact An Experienced Bergen County Child Support Attorney
At Sherwood, Johnson & Poles, our Bergen County family law attorneys are here to help parents and children receive the child support payments they need to live. If you are going through a divorce, or planning on starting the divorce process, or need assistance modifying the terms of your child support agreement, turn to our skilled attorneys.
Call us today at (888) 224-1218 to schedule a consultation.