New Jersey Court Rules require that the Courts use the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. The Court Rules further specify that the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines can only be disregarded by the Court “for good cause. “
There is a rebuttable presumption that the NJ Child Support Guidelines award is assumed to be correct. The Guideline aware can be rebutted if one party proves that certain circumstances exist that make the Guidelines-based award inappropriate. As a practical matter, the Child Support Guidelines are used in most cases that do not involve extreme income situation (under 105% of the US Poverty Guideline or a combined net income of $187,000 per year) – unless the parties agree to a different amount. In that case, a copy of the Child Support Guideline Worksheet must be attached to the Consent Order or Settlement Agreement, and the reason for the deviation must be noted on the worksheet.
Family law attorneys and Courts alike use software programs that determine a child support obligation based on the Child Support Guidelines. The Child Support amount is based on both parents’ incomes, the number of children, and the amount of overnights spent with each parent. The Guidelines consider whether either party is paying or receiving alimony, and award deductions for payments toward work-related daycare and the child’s portion of any health insurance premiums.
The Guidelines include other considerations that are less common. For instance, if either parent is remarried and has another child with their new spouse, that party is entitled to an “Other Dependent Deduction.” If a child receives Government benefits that are not “means-tested,” the benefit is deducted from the child support obligation. There are additional situations that can complicate the child support calculation, such as true 50/50 parenting time schedules or “split” parenting time schedules.
It is important to note that the NJ Child Support Guidelines only apply to children who are under the age of eighteen. If the children are over the age of eighteen and commuting to college, the Guidelines may apply (the Judge has discretion). If the child is over the age of eighteen and resides at college, the Guidelines do not apply.