New Jersey Child Support Lawyers
Our New Jersey Child Support Lawyers Provide Experienced Representation for Complex Matters
In New Jersey, children are entitled to financial support from both parents following divorce. The law ensures that children do not become economic victims of their parents’ break-up. Of course, if you’re like most parents, of course you want to ensure your children’s well-being, financially and otherwise! The goal is likely to be that you want them to continue having a similar quality of life they enjoyed when you were an intact family. But at the same time, there are a lot of new financial strains when a relationship and marriage ends and you may be feeling that the other parent is attempting to take advantage of you with child support requests or demands.
When you’re faced with child support issues, a skilled child support attorney can protect your rights. Our New Jersey child support lawyers represent parents ordered to pay child support as well as those who need to obtain or establish it to help care for their children financially. We also advise parents regarding enforcement of child support orders and past-due child support payments. We also help clients with modification requests when their financial or other situations relating to the children significantly change. We assist parents who are divorcing as well as parents who were never married. The bottom line is that child support is a right that belongs to the children and the parents are not entitled to just simply decide not to pay it in some way or form.
Contact MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC today at (201) 880-9770 to learn how we can help you. We’ll answer your questions, explain your rights and stand up for your interests.
Child support laws may appear straightforward, but in fact, can be very complex. One of the ways that it is complex is ensuring that the incomes utilized for either parent is accurate, or, if one parent is not working, discuss why that is and perhaps talk about whether income should be imputed to that parent for child support calculations. Also, maybe there is a situation with daycare or before/after school costs and we need to discuss who should pay for what, in what percentage, and the methodology of the payment itself. If you are divorcing, any alimony obligations should also be included in the child support analysis as appropriate. Lastly, one of the major issues when considering child support is the custody or visitation schedule. You cannot even begin to discuss child support until that issue is resolved. So, it’s to your great benefit to have skilled legal guidance. Our Bergen County child support lawyers have more than two decades of combined experience helping families find equitable solutions that ensure their children’s financial security.
Who Pays Child Support in New Jersey?
One question that we often hear is “Who pays child support?” Many fathers automatically assume that they will have to pay. This assumption is not correct. Typically, the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent. There are plenty of times where the Father is the custodial parent or the parents equally share custody. The truth about child support is that both parents have an obligation to the child. The way that New Jersey calculates child support ensures that both parents pay their appropriate allocated share but if one parent has to pay more than the other (maybe due to disparity in incomes), the amount each parent has to pay is offset between them and the difference means one parent pays to the other. This avoids back and forth exchanging of money.
Who is the custodial or the non-custodial parent and what the visitation arrangement should be is based on the child’s best interests as decided by the court. It isn’t based on gender. If child custody or a visitation arrangement is still being determined in your divorce case, our child custody lawyers may be able to help you achieve the best possible outcome. Once custody or a parenting time / visitation schedule is determined, we’ll help you in all matters related to child support, including counseling you about how payments are calculated and how much you might expect to pay or to receive.
Our Child Support Lawyers Explain How Payments Are Calculated
The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines provide a starting framework for helping judges determine child support amounts. The guidelines use a mathematical algorithm formula to determine how much money is needed to raise a child in the state and, from there, to arrive at child support amounts. Parents can get an idea of what they may collect or pay by visiting New Jersey Child Support online calculator. This is a guidelines calculator tool that can give you a rough idea. However, do not rely on it as if you input incorrect data or in the wrong location, the amount can and will vary greatly. Plus, court has the authority to determine the final amount based on all the factors involved and especially unique circumstances were there may be an inter-state visitation arrangement where travel costs are involved.
Some factors considered for Child support guidelines calculation are:
- The number of children;
- How many overnights or 12 hour consecutive blocks of time children spend with each parent;
- Each parent’s income, actual or imputed;
- Child care costs;
- Health insurance premium costs for the children only Whether alimony is being paid and received
But these guidelines are just that — a guide. Depending on the situation, the court can find that a deviation from the guidelines is appropriate. A deviation may be appropriate in all sorts of situations, one of them being if there are high wage earners as further explained below. If the court deviates from the guidelines, under state statute NJSA 9 § 17-53, it must consider all relevant facts in determining the amount of support. Some of them include the …
- Needs of the child
- Ages and health of the child
- Ages and health of parents
- Standard of living and economic circumstances of parents
- Income and assets of each parent, including any public assistance received
- Earning ability of each parent based on their education, training, employment skills and work experience
- Length of time and cost for each parent to be trained for appropriate employment
- Custodial responsibility of each parent.
The courts will also consider any other factors they think are relevant to deciding support amounts.
It’s also important to note that divorcing couples whose combined net income is above $187,200 are considered “above the guidelines” in New Jersey. This means that the guidelines are utilized first to determine a base amount and then New Jersey law says that you must come up with additional child support on top of that.
When you’re divorcing or even if you are not married but have a child with another person (adopted or biological), no matter your income level, our Bergen County child support lawyers will advocate on your behalf in child support decisions.
Child Support Settlement through Mediation
When parents can put negative emotions aside for the sake of their kids, they may be able to negotiate child support settlements through mediation. Parents who use mediation will have more control over the process and the result. Mediation involves working with a trained and neutral mediator, with the assistance of each parent’s respective attorney, to arrive at a result that is agreeable to both sides, while being in the child’s best interests. At the end of any mediation session, a mediator will advise the parties to seek independent legal counsel.
However, no matter how well-intentioned parents may be, sensitive child support issues can cause conflict. If you and the other parent aren’t able to successfully negotiate the outcome, child support will be resolved by the court.
Our child support attorneys in Hackensack advocate for clients throughout the mediation process. Contact MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC when you need legal help from informed and attentive family lawyers. We can be reached at (201) 880-9770.
Enforcement of Child Support Payments
How one pays child support varies. It can be by direct pay, wage garnishment, or through the New Jersey Probation Department. If paying parents fail to adhere to these arrangements and get behind in paying or don’t pay at all, they face tough consequences, which include:
- Having tax refunds intercepted
- Seizing of stocks, bonds and other possible assets
- Interception of lottery and casino winnings
- Passport denial if more than $2,500 is owed
- Incarceration for up to six months
- Suspension or revocation of driver’s license
- Suspension of professional, occupational, recreational and sporting licenses
- Having unpaid debts reported to credit-rating agencies if over $1,000 is owed.
If you are owed child support payments, our New Jersey child support attorneys can represent you and help you obtain all past-due payments or resolve if you feel that the amount you owe was improperly calculated.
If you are behind in child support payments, known in legal terms as “in arrears,” we can assess your situation and advise you about what to do based on your circumstances. If you can’t afford to pay your child support obligation, we can represent you in possibly negotiating a payment plan with the other parent or having your court order modified, depending on your particular circumstances. Reach out to us to learn more by dialing (201) 880-9770.
Our Child Support Attorneys Assist with Modification Requests
Financial situations can change, both for parents getting child support and for those paying it. You can ask for a recalculation of child support (up or down) if you’ve had a significant change in circumstances, either in income, custodial arrangement has changed, or maybe child care costs (before or after school) is no longer relevant—or even perhaps if you have another biological (or adopted) child. A significant increase or decrease in income, a serious illness or disability, the loss of a home and other issues are examples of what may be considered significant changes in circumstances.
To change a child support order, you should first try to negotiate same directly with the other parent. If you are uncomfortable doing so, then your attorneys can help you. If that fails, you’ll have to file a motion with the court. The parent asking for the change is responsible for proving to the court why it’s necessary and telling the court the significant change in circumstances. It is likely that the Court will send you to a mediation session first before the Judge ultimately decides the issue. However, once you proved to the court’s satisfaction that your circumstances have changed, the other parent will have to provide their current financial information. Then the court will either approve or disapprove the modification after reviewing all the facts involved, including, most importantly, how the change will impact the child.
Our Bergen County Child Support Attorneys Answer Common Questions
Is Child Support Adjusted for the Cost of Living?
New Jersey Rule 5:6B Cost of Living Adjustments for Child Support Orders entitles parents receiving support to a cost of living adjustment every two (2) years. These automatic adjustments are based on the average change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the state. Both parents paying child support and those receiving it will be notified before the adjustment takes place. This notification gives the paying parent the opportunity to dispute the adjustment if their income hasn’t increased at the same rate of inflation as that of the CPI. Contact our child support lawyers today if you have concerns about a cost of living adjustment.
How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support?
The age of emancipation is 18 in New Jersey but with a lot of exceptions to that rule. When the child reaches this age, marries or joins the military, and does not pursue a college or trade school education, the child support order should automatically end, unless it has been extended through a court order, judgment or court-approved agreement. Under New Jersey termination of obligation to pay child support law (NJSA 2A § 17-56.67), here are some situations in which child support may be extended:
- A court order specifies another age for the termination of paying child support, which can’t extend beyond the child’s reaching 23 years of age
- A child is severely mentally or physically incapacitated and is financially dependent on a parent and the obligation to continue paying support is specified in a court order or judgment
- The custodial parent submits a written request to the court for continuation of child support because the child is still finishing high school or is attending college or a trade school full time.
The law also allows for “exceptional” circumstances that may extend child support past age 18. These circumstances must be approved by the court.
At age 19, however, if the child support is being paid through the Child Support Probation, the parent receiving child support will receive an administrative notice that the child support probation department will be closing out their file and ending child support. It is incumbent upon the parent receiving child support to respond to the notice and update the Probation Department on the status of the child. Failure to do so will result in child support automatically ending. Just because the parent receiving child support may request that the child support continue, that does not mean that the parent paying child support is out of luck. The parent paying child support has the right to confirm the validity of the other parent’s paperwork and reason for requesting child support to continue.
How Do I Know My Child Support Payments Are Being Used for My Child’s Care?
Child support is for the benefit of kids—not custodial parents. There are court rules about how it’s supposed to be used, such as for housing, food, clothes, medical care, school and some extracurricular activities. But that said, receiving parents aren’t required to show how they spend the money. We know this can be frustrating to parents paying support. It can cause conflict when paying parents aren’t sure how the money is being spent and they suspect it’s not being spent as it’s intended to be. However, the courts give receiving parents the benefit of the doubt when it comes to where the money is going.
Still, if you believe the money you’re paying isn’t being used as it should be, it may be valuable to speak with one of our New Jersey child support lawyers. We will investigate your suspicion and, if it can be proven, may be able to help you get a modification to payments, or maybe the methodology of who you are paying, if you are overpaying and your child’s other parent is using the money for their own needs.
Get Help Now from Our Child Support Lawyers in Hackensack
Call Us Today for Skilled Legal Assistance
We know that most parents want what is best for their children. We want that, too. We also want to ensure that all parents are treated fairly in child support decisions in relation to their income and circumstances. When you want to be sure your rights are protected in child support matters, turn to our knowledgeable family law firm for help.
MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC can be reached at (201) 880-9770. No matter what your child support concern, you can rely on us to work toward getting you the most beneficial outcome.