In general, child support is calculated using the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines (“Guidelines”), which is a formula set by the state of New Jersey. The Guidelines apply to parents whose combined net income ranges from $8,840 to $187,200 per year. The Guidelines do not apply if the parents’ combined net income exceeds $187,200 or if a child is attending college and living away from home, which requires more complex analysis. If the Guidelines apply, child support covers the child's share of expenses for housing, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment, unreimbursed health care up to and including $250 per child per year, and specific items identified by this New Jersey law.
Frequently, divorcing parents negotiate whether or how to divide expenses which are not included in the Guidelines such as childcare, summer camp, private school tuition, extracurricular activities, or other extraordinary expenses. For example, if during the marriage, the child was involved in a costly extracurricular activity, beyond recreational soccer, baseball, or football typically sponsored by a municipality, the parents may be required to continue paying for the extracurricular activity post-divorce. Similarly, if the child attended private or religious school during the marriage, the parents may be expected to contribute to the tuition, assuming they have the financial ability to do so post-divorce. For older children, the ancillary costs for first- year college students such as dorm setup costs or a new laptop are not included in child support and the parties may agree to share these expenses.
The allocation and contribution requirement for expenses that are, and are not, included in child support is a complex process and involves analyzing the specific facts of each family. If you have questions regarding child support or any other issue regarding the divorce process, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Cohn Lifland Pearlman Herrmann & Knopf, LLP. We can help you understand your rights and obligations.