Child Support as determined by the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines are based on the estimated costs that parents living in intact families spend on their children.  Per economic studies, 65% of household spending is for items that are shared by all family members (i.e. laundry detergent), clothing and items generally used by only a single family number constitute another 25% of household expenses.

Because such a large percentage of expenses cannot be observed to be used by a single household member, much less a single child, economists apply marginal cost estimation to attempt to determine the added costs of a child to a family.  In application, MCE compares expenditures of families of similar socio-economic status with varying numbers of children.

Before MCE can be applied, a standard of well-being must be defined.  There are several standards of well being, however, the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines employ the Rothbert Standard, which measures how parents adjust their spending on adult items/goods as a direct result of the inclusion of a child.  Otherwise stated, the Rothbert Standard measures well-being by comparing excess income available to purchase adult items/goods (clothing, entertainment, etc.) after all necessary family expenditures.

The data used in the above analysis is obtained from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX),  a national cross-sectional survey that collects information about the consumption of hundreds of expenses.

Child Support Is Not Determined Pro Rata Per Child.

Of the many economic principles upon which the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines are based, the following best provides explanation as to the variation in support as the number of children in a family increases or decreases.

  1. A child’s marginal cost is the level of spending above what parents would spend if they did not have a child.
  2. The larger the household, the less is spent per capita as a result of the increasing sharing of household goods.
  3. As the number of children in a family increases, the amount spent on children increases, but not proportionally.

What Do the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines Cover?

A.      Expenses Included in the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines:

The base child support award that is subsequently divided  between the child’s share of expenses for housing, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment and $250.00 per child per year in health care costs.   The lack of a specific expenses by a family is not a basis for deviation from the Child Support Guidelines.

B.      However, the presence of certain types of specific expenses for a child may be added to the base child support award.  These types of expenses are not included in a base award either because they represent large and/or variable expenses for a child, or are not incurred by typical intact families.

The following are expenses that should be added to the base child support award if incurred for a child:

  1. Work related child care (including before and after care and summer day camp).
  2. Health Insurance Premiums incurred for the child determined as the marginal increase in price to add a child to a parent’s plan.
  3. Predictable and recurring un-reimbursed/uninsured health care expenses for a child in excess of $250.00 per child per year.
  4. Other Court approved expenses that are predictable and recurring for a child.