How does New Jersey calculate child support?

New Jersey law requires both parents to provide financial support for their children. The state has established general child support guidelines, but a family court judge has discretion to adjust the support amount depending on circumstances.

Both people who have a child with an unmarried partner and those who are facing a divorce should review the basics of child support calculations in New Jersey.

Understanding the shared income model

Many states use this type of calculation to determine a fair child support payment. The court looks at the combined net income of the parents and compares it to the average cost of raising a child in the county where the custodial parent will live. The judge adjusts this cost based on the amount of parenting time each parent has with the child during an average month.

Calculating net income

Both parents must provide the court a full financial disclosure. The court calculates combined net income for the purposes of child support by adding the parents’ gross income and subtracting union dues, child support for children from other relationships, alimony and taxes.

Converting net income to child support

When one parent has sole physical custody, the court compares the parents’ net income to the chart in Appendix IX-F of the state child support guidelines to find the amount of support. The judge can adjust this amount, which covers transportation, food, clothing, health care and housing, based on overnight visitation with the noncustodial parent.

When each parent has custody of the child at least 28% of the time, the court compares their net income to the chart in Appendix IX-D of the state child support guidelines. In this case, adjustment for additional overnights with the child is also at the judge’s discretion.

Finally, the court adds outstanding costs of raising the child to the adjusted support amount. For example, the judge can add funds to cover child care costs or significant recurring medical expenses.