Trying to Determine Child Support? Here are the Basic Factors Courts Consider.

Occasionally upon divorce, parties decide to take the path of least resistance and attend mediation to avoid the involvement of the Court. In these circumstances, a decision must be made in terms of child support. The non-custodial parent of the child must pay child support for the best interests of the child and in contribution to that child’s maintenance. Here are the initial factors the Court and a mediator look to in determining child support pursuant N.J.S.A. § 2A:34-23a:

(1) Needs of the child;

(2) Standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent;

(3) All sources of income and assets of each parent;

(4) Earning ability of each parent, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, custodial responsibility for children including the cost of providing childcare and the length of time and cost of each parent to obtain training or experience for appropriate employment;

(5) Need and capacity of the child for education, including higher education;

(6) Age and health of the child and each parent;

(7) Income, assets and earning ability of the child;

(8) Responsibility of the parents for the court-ordered support of others;

(9) Reasonable debts and liabilities of each child and parent; and

(10) Any other factors the court may deem relevant.

It should be noted that the Court and attorneys in New Jersey utilize the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines to calculate a parent’s child support obligation. The Guidelines are essentially a formula utilizing the above factors and tax consequences of the parties. The expenses covered by the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation per Appendix IX-A(8) are the following, in short:

  1. Housing (includes mortgage payment of the custodial parent’s home),
  2. Food,
  3. Clothing,
  4. Transportation,
  5. Unreimbursed Health Care Up to and including $250 per child per year,
  6. Entertainment, and
  7. Miscellaneous items (personal care products, school supplies, etc.).

More detailed explanations of the above factors are included in Appendix IX-A(8). This essentially means that the custodial parent cannot ask for additional contributions from the non-custodial parent for the above factors barring exceptional circumstances. It should be noted that private school tuition for children under the age of 18 is not a factor included in the Guidelines calculations, meaning that the non-custodial parent’s child support does not cover this expense. College tuition and any post-secondary school expenses are also not covered by child support. 

For more information or if you have additional questions regarding child support calculations, contact the law firm of Lyons & Associates, P.C.  At the law firm of Lyons & Associates, P.C., we represent clients throughout New Jersey in various family matters.