When going through a divorce, calculating child support may be something that you have been worrying about. In New Jersey, this is done in a formulaic way.
New Jersey law provides two sets of guidelines – often called “worksheets” – for determining the amount of child support. One worksheet is for a “Sole Parenting” situation (in which one parent has full physical custody) and the other is for a “Joint Parenting” situation (in which both parents share physical custody, though not necessarily 50/50). These relatively simple worksheets factor in each parent’s income and the estimated expenses of child care. They also account for the amount of time that a child stays with each parent. The “parent of alternate residence” will always make weekly payments to the “custodial parent,” though these will be less the closer the parenting time arrangement approaches to 50/50.
There are two important things to note here. First, the cost of raising a child generally increases as the child ages, but child support payments are fixed, and based on an average of the costs spread across the estimated years until child support payments end. This means that if you are receiving payments, New Jersey law assumes there will be a surplus in the first years, and that you will save or invest this surplus to call on in the later years. Second, the worksheets do not account for all of the expenses of raising a child. Health insurance, non-reimbursed medical expenses, private school tuition, summer camp, extracurriculars, and vacations may not be covered. You should address these anticipated expenses with your attorney and then with your spouse so that you can plan an equitable way to cover them.
If you would like to know more about calculating child support, please call our New Jersey family law attorney today for a free consultation.