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Divorce Resources - Nadine Maleski LLC, Flemington NJ

Child Support - New Jersey courts often order child support even after a child turns 18. In fact, courts have awarded college costs and even the cost of graduate school.

Child Support

What is child support?

In New Jersey, child support operates to ensure that children are not the economic victims of divorce or out-of-wedlock birth. A child support obligation continues until the child becomes emancipated. In many cases, this can extend past the child's 18th birthday. It may include contribution toward college expenses. While the primary custodial parent usually receives this support, in some situations the parent who does not have custody of the child the majority of the time may be entitled to receive child support.

How is child support collected?

Child support may be paid to a county Probation Office or The New Jersey Support Center. Child support can be garnished, automatically deducted from the paycheck of a parent to ensure timely payment. The duties of the Probation Office include documenting late payments, tracking arrears and initiating collection proceedings to bring a non-paying parent before a Judge. However, parties can agree to make the payments directly and to not utilize the Probation Office.

How is child support calculated?

For parents with combined net income up to $3,600 per week, the court approved formula for calculating child support is built into the Child Support Guidelines. The formula uses a variety of factors such as the income of each parent, the time each parent spends with the child, mandatory retirement contributions, the cost of health insurance premiums for the child and several other factors. For those with combined weekly net income above $3,600, the New Jersey statutory factors are applied in consideration of the needs of the child, the standard of living, the income and assets of the child, and numerous other statutory factors.

When is child support reviewed?

Parents may be entitled to have their child support obligation reviewed by a court when a variety of factors in the Child Support Guidelines change. Recipients of child support may receive periodic increases to support based on increases to the cost of living. A permanent and significant change in income may be grounds for a modification of child support. Examples are an increase in salary, or a protracted period of unemployment despite a diligent job search. As well, if the parents change the parenting schedule after child support is calculated, a modification may be appropriate.

What happens when someone willfully leaves their current employment?

Generally speaking, parents are expected to work full time. In situations where a parent is not earning at this level, the court may calculate child support based on imputed earnings. Imputed income is the income a court believes a parent reasonably should earn, given their background, education, work history and training.

Can child support be modified retroactive to past significant change in circumstances?

Courts are often unable to grant a retroactive modification of support. Therefore, a parent who believes the child support amount is no longer accurate should apply immediately to the Court for a modification.

Can a child enrolled in college still receive support?

New Jersey is one of the few states that may require separated parents to contribute toward the post-secondary education for their children. This may be college, vocational school, specialized job training programs and even graduate school. The courts analyze a variety of factors to determine if such contributions from the parents are necessary. The factors include those spelled out in the New Jersey statute and a case entitled Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529, 545 (1982), such as whether the parent, if still living with the child, would have contributed toward the costs of the requested higher education and the effect of the background, values and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the expectation of child for higher education. Parties frequently agree that the child apply for all available financial aid prior to seeking additional aid from the parents. Given the potential expense, parents are encouraged to come to a negotiated agreement regarding the issue of college contribution in order to carefully delineate the financial responsibility of both parents.

Parents may be required to pay support for their children attending college. Commonly, child support is calculated by examining the budget of the child. However, when a child commutes to college and lives at home, child support may continue as calculated using the Child Support Guidelines.

Should I hire an attorney?

Given the potential for complex legal issues surrounding child support, parents should consider obtaining legal representation when they attempt to establish a child support obligation or modify an existing obligation. At Nadine Maleski LLC, Nadine, Kasia Zielinski, Esq., Adam Eisenhut, Esq. are experienced family law practitioners who can guide you through the system. They will explain to you the options in collaborative cases, mediation, arbitration, settlement and litigation. Additionally, Joyce Harrington and Marsha Bricker are highly educated and experienced paralegals who guide and assist parents through the process.

Contact Nadine Maleski at 908-237-9711 or online for help in understanding child support.

(The above article prepared by Nadine Maleski, LLC appeared in the June/July 2010 edition of Hunterdon County Woman Magazine).