Deviations from New Jersey Child Support Guidelines
New Jersey’s child support guidelines serve as a starting point when negotiating a final child support agreement, but they can be deviated from with good cause. A deviation would have to be presented to the court, and the judge would have to make a decision.
Gathering the necessary documentation and presenting your case can be challenging, but an experienced child support attorney is available to help. With legal counsel by your side, you could fight for a fair agreement that protects the interests of your family.
How State Guidelines Operate in New Jersey
There is a computer program that calculates child support guidelines. The court will input all of the information it gathered and the program gives a number that the paying party should comply with. It also sets forth the percentage of each party’s share of the income, which could be relevant in some cases. For example, if there are unreimbursed medical expenses, the parties will share it in accordance with their percentage of their income.
The guidelines apply to children either up to the age of 18 or who graduated high school. If the children go on to full-time college, they will still receive child support, though it may deviate slightly from the guidelines. Children who are living at home with their parents, whether they are in college or not, and are not considered emancipated would be subject to child support guidelines.
State Guidelines as a Starting Point in Evaluating Child Support
If the party paying child support falls within the guidelines, then there is a presumption that the guidelines are applicable. Both parties’ incomes, which includes income from all sources like dividends or rentals, will be calculated.
There are two types of child support guidelines. First, there is a shared parenting worksheet, which means that the noncustodial parent has more than 104 overnights. This translates into every other weekend from Friday to Sunday and midweek overnights. Under these circumstances, the child support guidelines would be calculated on the shared parenting worksheet.
If the noncustodial parent has less than 104 overnights a year, the child support guidelines could be higher. Additionally, the number of children, the health care, the work-related child care, and any extraordinary expenses will also be factored in. The court will input all of that information into the guidelines, and that would be the starting point. If there are unusual circumstances like extra expenses, the final child support payments could increase.
If the parties are above the guidelines, meaning that they make a combined $187,200 net per year or more, then the guidelines are the starting point. Beyond that, the court would have to assess the reasonable needs of the children.
Questioning a Child Support Payment Contract
Courts commonly deviate from New Jersey guidelines in above guideline cases, meaning both parties collectively earn more than $187,200.00 net per year. In that case, they run the guidelines to get to the maximum number, and then the reasonable needs of the children beyond the child support guidelines have to be determined.
If it is found that parents have the ability to pay any expenses that are within the reasonable needs of the children, the analysis shifts to determining those reasonable needs. For example, perhaps the child is 16 and has a car, they are a member of an extracurricular sport with a lot of travel involved, or they go to private school. Those are things that would be beyond the guidelines to be contributed to.
The two parties must fully determine the needs of the children and arrive at a number above the guidelines. Because there is no specific formula, this process often takes the form of a negotiation. The person seeking additional child support has the burden of showing what the reasonable needs of the children are above those New Jersey guidelines.
A New Jersey Attorney Could Help with Your Above-Guideline Child Support Case
The state guidelines dictating child support payments can be complex and difficult for both parties to understand without the help of a qualified legal professional. A New Jersey attorney could fully explain the child support guidelines and fight for a deviation that effectively support the needs of your child. Contact a lawyer today and schedule a consultation.