Child Support

New Podcast: Child Support Guidelines in New Jersey

New Jersey child support guidelines are designed to benefit the child and put the child’s best interests first. Under New Jersey law, both parents must financially support their children until the child turns 18, and finishes high school. Child support can last longer if the child has special needs such as a mental or physical impairment. The state of New Jersey has child support guidelines to calculate how much child support should be paid by the noncustodial parent and for how long.

In this podcast episode, New Jersey Family Law and Child Support Attorney Abigale Stolfe answers:

  • What are the child support guidelines in New Jersey?
  • Are they meant to cover all expenses related to children?
  • How does a judge determine the amount and length of child support in a high asset case?
  • Once child support has been set, can it be changed?
  • What happens if a child support recipient remarries?
  • Can child support payments be reduced if the child’s living arrangements change?
  • Can divorcing spouses agree that neither will pay child support?
  • How can a custodial parent collect child support if his or her former spouse lives in a different state or maybe even a different country?

Podcast: Child Support

Protect What Matters Most

Talk To A New Jersey Child Support Attorney

Our Toms River and Moorestown family law attorneys understand that issues concerning child support can be confusing and highly emotional. We can work with you to find the best solution for your family and your child. Our law firm represents both parents who pay child support and parents who receive child support.

Contact Stolfe Zeigler New Jersey Family Law Group to learn how our New Jersey child support lawyers can help you at (732) 585-1651.

Transcript

Diana Shepherd:

My name is Diana Shepherd and I'm the editorial director of a divorce magazine and family lawyer magazine. Joining me today is Abigale M. Stolfe, a family lawyer based in Toms River, New Jersey. Abigale is known for effectively litigating, negotiating, and mediating complex cases, including child support, child custody, and visitation or parenting plans. Today, we're going to be talking about child support. Let's get started. Abigale, what are the child support guidelines? Are they meant to cover all expenses related to children in New Jersey?

Abigale M Stolfe:

The guidelines are a creation of years of research, which was intended to determine the average cost to raise a child in the average economic family, or the average economic circumstance. So when we look at these child support guidelines, we rely upon them and that's according to rule 5:6A that we rely upon these guidelines in order to determine the correct amount of child support to be paid by each parent for the benefit of the child. Those guidelines include a percentage for housing, utilities, transportation, food, clothing, medical, uncovered medical expense of to $250 per year, per child, makeup, hair product, toiletries, extracurricular activities with certain exceptions, shoes, outerwear. Everything you can think of for your child is typically incorporated into the child support guideline. There are some exceptions like footwear for sports is not considered in the child support guidelines. So if you're buying cleats, that's not in the guidelines, but the registration for baseball would be.

Abigale M Stolfe:

The reason we try to use a child support guideline in most cases, and I'll even say the majority of the cases, is because the guideline takes into account the majority of the middle-class families in the state. There are exceptions. If you have a special needs child, for instance, who has tremendous medical expense that is not anticipated by the guidelines, you may not be in the guideline even if you fall within the general income category of who the guideline anticipates. If you're each earning $100,000 a year, you would be subject under the rule to the child support guideline, in which case we would put in each of your incomes, we would take out your deductions, and the calculator would give us a child support amount. However, if you're each earning $100,000 a year, but you have a special needs child who has additional expense, then it might be appropriate to use the child support guideline, and then add to that basic child support member to encompass all of the additional expenses, which can be recurring and anticipated.

Abigale M Stolfe:

But generally speaking, there is a child support guideline in the state of New Jersey that will be utilized to determine what the weekly child support amount is going to be from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent.

Diana Shepherd:

How does a judge determine the amount and duration of child support in a high asset case?

Abigale M Stolfe:

In a case that falls outside of the guidelines, the court would look at NJ2A34-23A, and those factors would determine what amount of child support would be granted outside of the guidelines. We'd look at the needs of the child, we'd look at the standard of living and the economic circumstances of the parents, all sources of income assets of both parties, the earning ability of both parties, which would include their educational background, their training, skills, work experience, and the custodial responsibility that they have for the child. We would look at the need and capacity of the child for education, including higher education. Did they go to private school, for an instance, the age and health of the child and each parent, the income, assets, and earning ability of the child if you have a child, who's, let's say a child actor and they're generating their own income. Where's that going and how's that being utilized to offset some of their expenses? The responsibility of the parents for court-ordered support of others. They could have another child, they could have an elderly parent.

Abigale M Stolfe:

We'd have to look at those factors as well. We'd also look at the debts and liabilities of the parties. How this really works in real life is that when you have high-income earners, typically we break their or budget into two components. Number one is their expenses. Let's take a typical example. Dad is working in New York, mom is staying home with the children, and the children go to private school and have all these activities. They do horseback riding, they do rowing, they do a tremendous number of activities. So we may look at what was the lifestyle of the marriage, which was mom, dad, and the children. Then we would have mom break out a budget, which would be just her budget. What does she need for housing? What does she need for restaurants? What does she need for food? What does she need? This would only be for mom.

Abigale M Stolfe:

Then we would break out a separate budget for the children. How much is it to do rowing each year? How much is it to do with horseback riding each year? How much is it for the private school each year? Is there a whole life policy associated with the children? How much is the whole life policy? What are we going to do with the benefit of that policy, meaning the cash value attributed to the policy? So by creating these three separate budgets, what we're able to do is we're able to look at not only what the child support component would be and define the child support component, but also define the alimony component, assuming that there's an alimony obligation.

Abigale M Stolfe:

This allows us in creating an agreement that sets forth very specific timelines associated with each person named in that family. Because child, the oldest daughter, Susie, may be 13 in rowing and going to private school, but we know that's only going to last for five years until she goes off to college. Then we have to have a whole other review for the college period. So we can have very defined expenses and defined periods by breaking out those three separate budgets.

Diana Shepherd:

Once the amount and duration of child support have been set, can either be changed for any reason?

Abigale M Stolfe:

Both custody and support are always an open door. Always remember, anything related to your child can always change. We do have to show a change in circumstance, but that's not such a difficult burden when we're talking about a child-related expense. So the term of child support can change. For instance, if the child goes from living with mom to living with dad, that would change the payor as well as the amount and term. If the child goes from living at mom's house to going to a full-time boarding school, that would change the amount of the child support. Duration doesn't typically change, because we would pay until at least the child is 18 years old. But then if they went to college, that child support would continue at some level and to some degree past the time that they've turned 18. That would be a whole other series of factors we would consider.

Diana Shepherd:

If a child support recipient remarries, can the ex-spouse stop making child support payments?

Abigale M Stolfe:

When your spouse remarries, your obligation to your children continues. The new spouse is not responsible for the payment of your child's expenses. You may not stop paying support due to your spouse's remarriage.

Diana Shepherd:

Can someone reduce his or her child support payments if their child is staying with them for an extended period, during summer vacation, for example?

Abigale M Stolfe:

During the period of time when a court has ordered child support, a party may not unilaterally or on their own decision stop or modify their support obligation. They can only do that by written agreement of the two parties, meaning a document that both parties have signed preferably in the presence of a notary or with a court order, meaning that one party went to court and asked for a reduction, whether it's a long-term reduction or a temporary reduction for let's say a summer vacation. Only then with that court order, could they reduce their support.

Diana Shepherd:

If the payor is constantly late or short with his or her child support payments, what can the recipient do to ensure receipt on time and full? Can the custodial parent withhold visitation until he or she receives payment?

Abigale M Stolfe:

If child support is not being paid, the recipient, meaning the person receiving the support, has the right to ask the court by way of motion to open a probation account. Then probation would collect by wage execution or perhaps through a tax return levy or through whatever source they could, the amount that's due in owing. Child support and child and parenting time are not interrelated. It would be not in the best interest of a child to be withheld from having time with their non-custodial parent, especially over financial issues.

Diana Shepherd:

Can divorcing spouses agree that neither will pay child support to the other?

Abigale M Stolfe:

Neither party has the right to waive child support since child support is the benefit of the child, meaning the child owns that right. However, there is case law which provides that the parties can take on the other party's responsibility for support. What that means is if, let's use an easy example, if dad is a Wall Street executive, and he's going to have primary custody of the party's children and mom would have a very different child support obligation, the parties can agree that, by case law, the dad would take on mom's financial burden. Now at any point, the parties can, if they've, “waived support”, go back to court and ask the court to enter a support award because it is the right of the child.

Diana Shepherd:

How can a custodial parent collect child support if his or her former spouse lives in a different state or maybe even a different country?

Abigale M Stolfe:

Once New Jersey has entered a child support order, any state within these United States will enforce that order. What typically happens is we have what's called the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. So if New Jersey enters a support award and the payor parent is not making the payments that they're supposed to make, the recipient can go down to their county court, file a petition under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, also known as UIFSA, and then UIFSA will contact the payor's state. So let's say we're talking about New Jersey and Florida. So if mom lives in New Jersey and she went down to the courthouse and she asked for a UIFSA enforcement, then New Jersey would contact Florida and ask that Florida enforce the order. A UIFSA officer would then be assigned to the case out of Florida and they would enforce that order through Florida.

Diana Shepherd:

My guest today has been Abigale M Stolfe, family law attorney at Stolfe Zeigler, which is a boutique family law firm in Toms River, New Jersey. She's had numerous cases cited by judges in published opinions, which demonstrates her knowledge, skills, and ability to win cases. For more information about how Abigale can help you to create fair solutions to your child support issues, go to www.szfamilylawfirm.com.

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