Your Guide To Child Support
In New York and New Jersey, both parents of a child or children must financially support their children and the custodial parent of a child or children is entitled to receive child support from the non-custodial parent. A custodial parent need not have been married to the non-custodial parent to be entitled to receive support from the other. The laws governing the amount and frequency of child support vary from state to state and the attorneys of Bonfiglio & Asterita, LLC Attorneys At Law, are well-versed and experienced in handling child support matters in both New York and New Jersey whether in the context of a divorce or involving unmarried parents of a child or children.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
The amount of child support that a parent is required to pay in New York is governed by New York’s Child Support Standards Act (CSSA), which determines a presumptive sum of child support based upon the adjusted gross income of the parents and the number of children in question, and then by dividing that combined sum according to the respective incomes of the parents on a pro-rata basis. The percentage of the parents’ combined adjusted gross income to calculate child support is as follows.
- 17% for one child
- 25% for two children
- 29% for three children
- 31% for four children
- Not less than 35% for five children or more
The CSSA currently applies up to a maximum of $136,000.00 and the Court can apply it at its discretion in excess of that sum based upon certain factors, such as the financial ability of the non-custodial parent, the lifestyle the child would have enjoyed if the parents were living together, and any special needs the child(ren) may have.
Child care, if needed for the custodial parent to work and medical care not covered by insurance must be paid by the non-custodial parent in addition to child support. Educational expenses may also be required to be paid by the non-custodial parent as well.
Of course, there are many other rules that apply such as minimum support requirements even if a non-custodial parent is unemployed or has income below the federal poverty level, and a deviation from the CSSA calculation is possible provided a basis to justify the deviation is shown.
The amount of child support that a parent is required to pay in New Jersey is determined by the New Jersey Child Support guidelines which are annexed as Appendix IX in the New Jersey Court Rules. The Guidelines apply to parents whose combined net incomes are greater than $170.00 per week ($8,840.00 per year) and less than $3,600.00 per week (187,200.00 per year). For incomes less than these amounts the Court will award an amount based upon the needs of the child and the non-custodial parent’s net income and expenses and result between $5.00 and income awarded as if the non-custodial parents’ income is $170.00 per week.
If the combined net incomes of the parents are greater than $3,600 per week the Guidelines award that is based on $3,600.00 per week is the minimum basic support award and the Court then has the discretion to increase that award based upon a number of factors which include the child’s specific needs, such as the standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent, all sources of income and assets of each parent, the earning ability of each parent including their respective educational background, training, employment skills, work experience responsibility for the children including the cost of child care, time to obtain training or work experience to gain employment, need or capacity of the child for education (including college), the age and health of the parents and the child, special needs of the child, the effect of any prior orders for the support of other children, debts or liabilities of the parents, and any other factors that the Court in its discretion deems to be relevant.
Other adjustments to the Guidelines can be made to child support calculations for various items, such as receipt of government benefits paid to or for the child and adjustments for parenting time. Deviations from the Guidelines is possible under certain circumstances, including but not limited to the existence of special needs of the child, more than six children in the household, unreimbursed medical expenses of the parents and educational expenses of the children, however, any deviation must be specified in the Court’s order directing the support amount or within the Child Support Guidelines worksheet.
The child support guidelines are based on a one-household concept. If the child spends the equivalent of at least two or more overnights per week (104 overnights per year) in the non-custodial parent’s home the Court may determine that a shared parenting arrangement exists if the parties file a parenting plan with the court that sets forth the parenting time and responsibilities of each parent in which case the court may implement shared parenting guidelines which provide far greater discretion to the Court to determine the support obligations of the parents.
The court may add expenses, such as child care expenses, health insurance, known recurring unreimbursed health care costs and other expenses approved by the court which all can be included prior to a final calculation and allocated in proportion of the income of the parents. Once a child attends college, the guidelines are no longer applicable because duplicate expenditures such as room, board and transportation are incurred but if a child continues to live at home while attending college the court may apply the guidelines when determining child support.
Can Child Support Be Changed Or Modified?
Generally, child support orders in both New York and New Jersey may be changed or modified upon application to the court provided the applicant demonstrates that a change of circumstances warranting the modification has occurred. In many instances, the change of circumstances demonstrated must be unforeseen. Any change to a child support order must be approved by the Court to be enforceable, even if both parents agree to it. Some of the factors a court will consider when deciding whether or not to grant an upward or downward modification of a child support order include unforeseen medical needs of the child or parent or the loss of employment or other serious financial difficulties of a parent.
My Ex-Spouse Or Child’s Parent Will Not Pay Child Support. What Can I Do?
If a noncustodial parent is refusing or neglecting to pay their child support, you can make an application in New York or New Jersey to obtain or enforce a child support order. This can occur during a divorce or even if the parents of the child are not married, but without a court order for child support, you cannot force a parent to pay child support. Failure of a parent to comply with court-ordered child support can result in the seizure of property, seizure of federal tax refunds, suspension of a business license or driver’s license, refusal to issue a passport, or even incarceration.