Child Support 101: A Quick Guide to Determining What’s Included

Child Support 101: A Quick Guide to Determining What’s Included

Tackling child support can be daunting. This guide can put your mind at ease by knowing how to file, what to include, how to adjust your child support obligation, and how emancipation can eliminate your child support obligation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support In New Jersey

Below find some commonly asked questions regarding child support. For answers to other questions, or for more in depth explanations, it is best to consult outside resources or speak with an attorney.

The Law Office of Linda Piff specializes in collaborative divorce and mediation. Linda Piff can help you and your spouse resolve disputes regarding child support.

Who can file for child support?

A petition for child support may be brought by either the party entitled, an assistance agency or a party seeking to establish that party’s support obligation provided no other family action is pending in which the issue of support has been or could be raised.

How do I file?

Complete and sign the Child Support Services Application and the Child Support Case Information form and return both documents to The Family Division or The County Welfare Agency, in your county of residence to have a court order established. If you know where the other party lives, you may bring the paperwork to your county’s Family Division. If you don’t know where the other party lives, you must bring the paper work to your county’s Welfare Agency. If you need help enforcing a child support obligation, visit the Probation Division where your case was heard.

What does the Family Division do?

The Family Division establishes paternity, support and medical orders.

What does the County Welfare Agency Child Support Unit do?

The CWA locates obligors and files non-support complaints on active Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) with the Family Division.

What does the Probation Division do?

The Probation Division monitors and enforces court orders.

Who is the obligee?

The obligee is the person who receives child support.

Who is the obligor?

The obligor is the person who is ordered to pay child support.

How are payments received?

Typically, the obligor makes payments through the New Jersey Family Support Payment center (NJFSPC). Payment is then sent to the obligee.

What if the obligor doesn’t pay?

The Probation Division help to enforce the order, including, but not limited to, requiring the support amount be taken out of his or her paychecks, returning the case to court, or reporting to a credit reporting agency.

When is an adjustment made?

A substantial change must have taken place and that change must be permanent and unexpected. For example, job loss, obtaining a higher paying job, major health issues of the parent or child, or a change in expenses necessary to raise the child. See also, N.J.S.A. 5:6B.

Calculating Child Support

Courts use the New Jersey child support guidelines. The support guidelines are in Appendix IX-A of the New Jersey Court Rules. The Court Rules are also on the New Jersey Judiciary website, http://www.njcourtsonline.com.

Use the child support calculator to get an estimate of how much you may have to pay monthly in child support.

Child support awards include the child’s share of expenses for housing, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment, unreimbursed health care up to $250 per child per year, and other miscellaneous items.

Housing: All costs including but not limited to property taxes, repairs, rent, parking fees, expenses for vacation homes, utilities, fuels, public services, domestic services, moving and storage, furniture, major appliances, stationary, floor covering, all small appliances and housewares, and all household textiles.

Food: All food and non-alcoholic beverages purchased for home or away from home are included. For example, food purchased from vending machines, restaurants, tips, school meals, and catered affairs are included. However, non-food items such as cigarettes, tissue papers, and alcoholic beverages are not included.

Clothing: All child’s clothing is included except special footwear for sports.

Transportation: All costs involved with owning or leasing an automobile intended for primary use of a child subject to the support order are included. These costs include, but are not limited to, lease payments, gas and motor oil, insurance, maintenance, tolls, parking fees, and license and registration.

Unreimbursed Health Care Up to and Including $250 per Child Per Year: These expenses are considered ordinary and may include non-prescription drugs, co-payments, or health care services. The cost of adding an additional child to health insurance policy is not included.

Entertainment: All costs including, but not limited to, fees, memberships and admissions to sports, recreational, or social events, lessons, movie rentals, televisions, mobile devices, sound equipment, pets, hobbies, and toys.

Miscellaneous Items: All costs involving personal care products and services, books and magazines, school supplies, cash contributions, personal insurances, and finance charges.

The items below are not included in the Appendix IX-F child support awards. If the expenses below are incurred, they should be added to the basic support obligaton.1

Child-Care Expenses: The average cost of child care is not factored into the schedules. The net cost or work-related child care should be added to the basic obligation if incurred.

Health Insurance: The parent’s marginal cost of adding a child to a health insurance premium should be added to the basic obligation if incurred.

Predictable and Recurring Unreimbursed Health Care Expenses In Excess of $250 Per Child Per Year: Health-care expenses exceeding $250 per child per year that are no predictable and recurring should be shared by the parents in proportion to their relative incomes as incurred.

Other Expenses Approved by the Court: These costs include predictable and recurring expenses for children that may not be incurred by average or intact families such as private elementary or secondary education, special needs of gifted or disabled children, and NCP/PAR time transportation expenses.

Emancipation

When does child support terminate?

Prior to New Jersey’s new emancipation law, the parent paying for child support had the burden of asking the court for a child to be emancipated. As of February 1, 2017, child support obligations automatically terminate on the child’s 19th birthday. Now, the parent receiving child support explains why child support should not terminate. The law applies to all child support orders, regardless of when they were entered.

Child support and/or medical support may continue up to age 23 in cases where the child is either still in high school, attending college or vocational school full-time, or is disabled. Additionally, the court may use its discretion to continue support, or the parties may reach a different agreement. If you have a settlement agreement that contains different standards for the emancipation, this law will not apply. Regardless of the new law, you may still provide health care coverage for your child.

Can I continue supporting my child after my statutory obligation ends?

If you pay for child support through the probation department, you will receive a notice about five months prior to the child’s 19th birthday asking for a reason to continue support. If you do not respond, another notice will be sent two months later. If again you do not respond, child support will automatically terminate on the child’s 19th birthday.

In shifting the burden from the parent paying for child support to the custodial parent, the new law seeks to make this process more equitable. Speaking with an attorney can give you greater insight into the new law and how it affects you and your child.

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