If you are a divorcing parent, child support is most likely one of the key aspects of your divorce agreement. The Law Office of Sarina Gianna, LLC recognizes this, which is why we have written this guide to child support in the state of New Jersey. Though we hope this guide is informative and reassuring, to attain the best outcome possible for both you and your children, you will need to retain the services of an experienced New Jersey child support attorney. Please continue reading to learn more about child support and what our compassionate Ocean City family law team can do for you. Here are some of the questions you may have about child support in New Jersey:
How is child support determined in New Jersey?
As with child custody, you should note that your child’s best interests are New Jersey courts’ primary concern, which is why ultimately, your child support agreement will revolve around your child’s needs. That being said, New Jersey courts will also take various other aspects of you, your spouse, and your children’s lives into consideration when deciding on your child support terms. Some of these factors are as follows:
- Whether your child is currently employed and has a steady income
- What your family’s standard of living has been before the divorce
- You and your spouse’s economic circumstances
- Your child’s needs
- The age and health of both you and your spouse
- The number of children currently living in your household
- You and your spouse’s earning capacity, as well as your education
- Any additional factors that New Jersey courts deem relevant to your specific case
Is child support different for higher-income New Jersey families?
When families have a collective income that is greater than $187,200, New Jersey courts will calculate your child support accordingly, taking into account that you are, by law, a higher-income family. Since, generally speaking, a higher level of spending is associated with higher-income families, this adjustment makes sense. If you are in a higher-income family, New Jersey courts will decide the terms of your child support first based on the state’s Guidelines, however, they will then add any additional support needed based on your remaining family income, as well as other factors, like your child’s individual needs.
What does child support cover in New Jersey?
Many financially-dependent divorced parents often are very concerned about whether they will be able to support their children and uphold their standard of living without the paycheck they initially depended on. Fortunately, child support should cover a wide array of your child’s needs so he or she can go on living a fulfilling, financially stable life. To start, child support payments cover the basics, such as food and clothing. However, the term “clothing” does not include all clothing. For example, generally, child support payments will not cover specialized footwear for sports, however, all basic needs should be met.
Additionally, many dependent spouses and their children are pleased to learn that child support also covers several recreational events or hobbies that will enrich your child’s life, such as team sports and more. Furthermore, the cost of transportation, like such as lease payments, car payments and maintenance, public transportation and more are all covered under New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines. Unreimbursed healthcare up to $250 is also included in child support payments. Finally, though certainly not least importantly, child support payments should also cover housing and healthcare. Therefore, property taxes, home insurance, and mortgage payments should be covered, at least to a certain extent.
What should I do if my ex refuses to pay child support?
When New Jersey courts decide on the terms of your child support agreement, they are binding, meaning both you and your former spouse must abide by them. However, situations where ex-spouses refuse to pay child support arise more often than we’d like to admit. While these circumstances are far from ideal, you do not have to panic–you have legal options, and our firm can help ensure you and your child are protected. Your first option is reaching out to the Office of Child Support Services, an office of which many child support agreements are established. Keep in mind that even if you do not receive child support through OCSS, you may still contact them if your spouse is not making child support payments as previously determined. If OCSS acknowledges that your child support payments are more than two weeks overdue, they will then work to enforce your agreement.
Though going to OCSS may resolve your issue, the unfortunate reality is that in some cases, the OCSS is a bit slow to respond to these claims. However, rather obviously, receiving child support payments is a very time-sensitive issue, which is why many parents seek a quicker, more direct route. If you are currently waiting for OCSS to respond and are running out of time or resources, you should speak with our experienced Ocean City post-judgment enforcement attorney as soon as possible. When you speak with us, we will file a motion with the court on your behalf to solicit their involvement in the matter. The hope is that by doing so, we can streamline the process to ensure you receive the child support payments you and your child need to uphold your standard of living.
How do I modify child support in New Jersey?
If you have been divorced for months or years, you are most likely living a different life now than you were some time ago. This is completely natural. Things change. We get new jobs, begin new relationships, and more. Because of this, New Jersey courts allow those receiving/paying child support to request modifications to their initial child support agreement. That being said, to have your child support terms modified or adjusted after initial negotiations, you must first demonstrate to the court your circumstances have changed both significantly and for the foreseeable future. Some circumstances that may constitute a child support modification can include the following:
- One parent has lost their home
- One parent has contracted a serious illness or sustained a serious injury
- Their child has sustained a serious injury or contracted a medical condition
- One parent recently took a significant pay cut or lost their job
- There has been a change in federal income tax laws
- One parent is now living with another person/has remarried
- One parent has received a job promotion or has come into a large sum of money, via an inheritance or otherwise
The bottom line is that there are various circumstances in which either parent, whether the supporting or supported parent, may request a child support modification. Sometimes, parents request these modifications and the other parent resists, saying their request is unfounded or unfair. Though in some cases, co-parents can cooperate and agree on a support modification on their own, this does not always happen. If your ex refuses to update your child support terms to better suit you and your child’s needs, you can file a motion with New Jersey courts and request a modification. That being said, receiving a child support modification is seldom easy, and you will have to provide evidence to the court that you and your child truly need an updated child support agreement to uphold your standard of life. That is why you must retain the services of an experienced Brick, New Jersey child support attorney who is ready to fight for the child support your family deserves and needs.
When can I stop paying child support in New Jersey?
Many supporting spouses are concerned about when child support ends in the state of New Jersey. As mentioned before, child support is an extremely complex issue, so there is no definite answer to this question, as many variables affect when child support ends. That being said, in most cases, children are formally emancipated from child support payments in New Jersey upon their 19th birthday. However, under certain circumstances, parents can request an extension on their child support payments even after their child turns 19. If your child is looking to attend college or pursue higher education, you and your New Jersey child support attorney can request that the courts extend his/her child support payments until he/she turns 23 years old. Additionally, if your child has a disability or medical condition that requires additional and continuous financial assistance, you may also request an extension on child support payments as needed.
However, it is also worth noting that in some cases, your child may be emancipated from the child support order before he or she turns 19 years old. Though this is rather uncommon, it does happen, under certain circumstances. Your child may be emancipated from child support for any of the following reasons, as long as the court agrees:
- Your child is no longer living with his/her parents
- Your child has enlisted in the military
- Your child is now financially independent and has obtained a full-time job
- Your child is now married
- Your child is pregnant or has children of his/her own
We know how complicated the issue of child support is. Obtaining child support is far more than a financial issue, which is why you need an attorney who is both knowledgeable, compassionate, and ready to fight for your rights, every step of the way. Attorney Gianna is that attorney. For any additional questions pertaining to receiving child support in the state of New Jersey, please reach out to our experienced Ocean City family law team today. You have our promise to keep you and your child’s best interests at heart through every step of the legal process.
Finally, please note that if you or a loved one has any other divorce or family law concerns, Attorney Gianna is here to help. Our firm is highly capable of handling legal matters related to alimony, child custody, divorce mediation, property distribution, prenuptial agreements, adoption, and more.
Contact our experienced Ocean City, New Jersey child custody firm
The Law Office of Sarina Gianna, LLC prides itself on helping parents and children receive the support payments they need. If you are getting a divorce, are planning on a divorce, or are looking to update terms previously negotiated in an initial divorce settlement, you know where to turn. Contact The Law Office of Sarina Gianna, LLC today to schedule a consultation. We are here to be your steadfast defender, from beginning to end. You can count on us.