In New Jersey, child support is determined based upon Child Support Guidelines, which are written into the New Jersey Court Rules. These Guidelines cover most situations for most families. Child support is calculated the same whether the parents are married, or not married. The Guidelines will take into account the number of children, how old they are (there is more money paid for child support when the children are 12 years old or older), father’s income, mother’s income, how much income tax is being paid by each of them, what is the cost for child care so that the parents can go to work, what is the cost for health insurance for the children, and who is paying for these. How much time the children are spending with each of the parents is also a factor.
All of these factors are laid out on the Child Support Guidelines worksheet, which is actually part of the Court Rules. It is fairly easy to calculate child support, if you know all of these amounts.
Child support is not forever, of course. It stops when the children grow up. The legal term for this is “emancipated”. This includes the termination of the paying of child support because the child gets married, or dies, or joins the military service. When the child reaches 19 years old, if he or she is not going on to university or other education, then child support will end. However, regardless of anything else, child support terminates at age 23 no matter what. The only exception for this is if the child is really and truly disabled, and really will not be able to support herself or himself.
Payment of child support – Usually, payment of child support is made on a regular basis, every week, more often every two weeks, sometimes once a month. Child support can be paid directly from one parent to the other parent. However, payment can be made through the Probation Department in the County for where the divorce is taking place.
Enforcement of Child Support – This one of the most thorny issues. A parent who fails to pay child support in full and on time can find themselves in very big trouble. This can lead all the way up to being arrested and jailed. If there is going to be a problem with paying child support, the parent who is paying would be very wise to speak to an attorney right away.
Increasing or decreasing child support – The general rule is that child support will be changed, only if the Judge finds that there has been a significant change in the circumstances of one of the parents, like the loss of a job, illness or something else significant. There are situations where the paying parent loses a job, or becomes ill, and the Judges understand that this can cause a financial crisis. For small changes in
income, or temporary situations like a loss of a job that only happened a week or two previously, the Judges will often decide that this is only a temporary problem. You should speak with an experienced divorce attorney to get a clear idea of how the law applies to your situation.