How is child support determined in New York and New Jesey?
Every state has child support guidelines which determine the amount of child support to be paid.
In New Jersey:
a) How is child support determined in New Jersey?
New Jersey, similar to many other states, has "Child Support Guidelines" that apply a percentage to the total available income of both parents. Using the fraction of the total income that you (or the other parent) earn, child support is calculated. These guidelines have been effective since September 1, 1997.
The guidelines now provide the child support award for all combined incomes up to $187,200.00 per year ($3,600.00 per week). If the income is above that level, the Judge has the discretion as to how much additional support should be ordered.
b) How do I calculate the amount of child support?
You can approximate your child support obligation (or the amount that you will be receiving) by applying the paying parent's (Parent of Alternate Residence, or PAR) income to the Guidelines. They are available here.
However, to get a more accurate amount, complete a Child Support Worksheet, available at the Family Court.
c) What if this amount does not cover expenses?
In most every divorce the finances are difficult for both parties. However, it is important to recognize that the guidelines include certain expenses, such as:
a. housing (mortgage or rent, repairs, school or college housing, utilities, domestic help, lawn care, gardening, pest control, laundry and dry cleaning, furniture, appliances, and others);
b. food (including non-alcoholic beverages, and food purchased away from home);
c. clothing (except for special-needs clothing for sports);
d. transportation (including car payments and insurance);
e. unreimbursed health care (up to $250.00 per year per child);
f. entertainment (fees, memberships, admissions to sporting events, etc.); and
g. miscellaneous items such as personal care products, magazines, etc.
The Court can make an additional allowance for such expenses as:
h. child care expenses, including day care, day camp in lieu of day care;
i. health insurance (the additional cost to insure the child/ren only);
j. predictable and recurring health care expenses in excess of $250 per year per child (such as orthodontia and counseling);
k. other expense approved by the Court, such as private schooling, special needs of gifted or disabled children, and visitation transportation expenses.
In New York:
a) When does child support stop in New York?
A parents liability for the support of his or her children is limited to children under the age of 21. In the absence of an express or implied contract, parents generally have no duty to support an adult child. For custody, visitation and other purposes, the age of majority is age 18, but for purposes of the a parent's support obligation, the age of majority remains at 21. Of course, a parent's duty to provide reasonable child support is not absolute. The duty may be terminated before a child is 21 if the child becomes emancipated by obtaining a full-time job which pays enough that the child can truly be considered to be financially independent, by marriage or entry into the armed forces. Under certain limited circumstances, a parent's duty to pay child support may also terminate if the child refuses, without just cause, to submit to reasonable parental authority.
b) How is child support calculated?
• The Child Support Standards Act ("CSSA") provides that the court shall calculate the "basic child support obligation", and the non-custodial parent's pro rata share of the"basic child support obligation". Unless the court finds that the non-custodial parent's pro rata share of the "basic child support obligation" is unjust or inappropriate, after considering ten statutory factors, it must order the non-custodial parent to pay their pro-rata share of the "basic child support obligation". In arriving at the "basic child support obligation" the Court must calculate the "combined parental income" and multiply it by the appropriate "child support percentage.""Income" is defined as "gross income as was or should have been reported on the most recent federal income tax return". There are required deductions from gross income for social security and New York City and Yonkers income taxes. The law contains provisions for additions to "income" and deductions from "income".
The "child support percentage" is:
◦ 17% of the combined parental income for one child;
◦ 25% of the combined parental income for two children;
◦ 29% of the combined parental income for three children;
◦ 31% of the combined parental income for four children; and
◦ no less than 35% of the combined parental income for five or more children.
Where there are five or more children, the court must exercise its discretion in fixing the amount of the child support percentage. Where the combined parental income exceeds $80,000 per year, after the court determines the non-custodial parent's share of the "basic child support obligation", it must next determine the amount of child support for the amount of combined parental income in excess of $80,000. It may do so, in the exercise of its discretion, through consideration of ten discretionary factors and/or the child support percentage.
There are two additional items of support which are part of and which the court must consider in determining the "basic child support obligation" and two items it may consider in determining the non-custodial parent's share of the "basic child support obligation":
When a custodial parent is working or receiving education leading to employment, reasonable child care expenses must be apportioned pro rata, in the same proportion as each parent's income is to the combined parental income.
In addition, the Court must fix the non-custodial parent's pro-rata share of the child's future reasonable health care expenses not covered by insurance, prorated in the same proportion that each parent's income is to the combined parental income and the non custodial parent's pro rata share must be paid in the manner determined by the Court.
The Court may also make an award directing the non custodial parent to pay the costs of present or future post-secondary, private, or special education for the child. The non-custodial parent will pay these expenses in the manner determined by the Court. This provision is discretionary. When the Court determines that the custodial parent is "seeking work" and incurs child care expenses as a result, it may determine reasonable child care expenses and apportion them between the custodial and the non-custodial parent. The Court can direct the manner of such payment. This provision is also discretionary.
The CSSA mandates that a minimum of $25.00 per month be fixed as child support even if the non-custodial parent is unemployed and has no income or assets. Can my spouse and I agree to amounts that are different from the amount of child support required by the "CSSA" guidelines?
Yes. You and you spouse can waive the provisions of The Child Support Standards Act provided that you do so in writing, and the agreement contains certain required language demonstrating that you have been advised as to the amount of child support that would have to be paid were the CSSA guidelines being observed, and further, the agreement lists the reason or reasons that it does not provide for payment of that amount. This provision may not be waived by either party or their counsel.
Can Child Support be increased after the divorce has been granted?
In New York and New Jesey, you can file a "motion" asking the Court to modify the most recent Order or Judgment based on a substantial change in circumstances and the best interests of the child/ren. You can simple do this by walking in to the Family COurt in your country and filing out some forms. On the court date you woudl bring in proof that there has been a change in your circumstances. such as you are unemployed and collecting unemploymentinsurance.
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