What factors are considered when calculating child support?

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Child support is a critical resource for families all across New Jersey. This financial obligation assures that both parents are contributing to the well-being of a child, even if that contribution is only financial. Whether one parent has sole custody of a child or parents share custody, child support is almost certainly going to be ordered.

Understand that child support is not arbitrary. In other words, it is not a means of penalizing or rewarding parents. When the courts order child support, they do so based on specific guidelines, which ensure that child support orders are fair and adequate. The amount is calculated after several factors are taken into account. Below is a list of these factors.

When calculating support, the courts will assess:

  • Each parent’s income
  • Union dues, tax withholdings and retirement contributions
  • Government benefits for the child
  • Spousal support paid or received by either parent
  • Child support paid or received for other children
  • Balance of parenting time
  • Fixed expenses related to the child
  • Variable expenses related to the child
  • Shared expenses related to the child
  • A child’s medical needs

Once all these factors are noted and calculated, parents and/or the courts can arrive at the amount of support a parent should pay.

As you can see, subjective factors like parenting styles and personal shortcomings are not going to affect child support. This may or may not be what a parent wants to hear, but it is important to stress the fact that child support is for the benefit of the child, not as a means of rewarding or punishing parents.

Despite the clear guidelines in place, there is still plenty of opportunity for questions, concerns and complications to arise with regard to calculating and collecting child support. Because of this, it can be wise to have the guidance and help of an attorney if you are dealing with an issue related to child support.

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