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How child support is determined in New Jersey

New Jersey courts use a set of statutory guidelines to inform them when they are making a determination regarding the amount of child support that should be paid. While judges do take into account the respective incomes of the parents, they also consider the anticipated custody arrangement as well as other factors in setting the final child support order.

The state mandates courts consider the guidelines in determining the relative proportions the parents are responsible for contributing towards the support of the child for all parents whose combined incomes are $150,800 or less. This presumed basic child support is rebuttable, however, and thus either parent can argue for the court to ignore the guidelines based on the individual circumstances of their case.

Even if one parent is underemployed or is unemployed, courts will impute income to him or her if the court believes the employment status is voluntary. In those cases, courts will review the individual's work employment history, educational level and potential employment when determining the amount of child support responsibility the person should have. When parents should be making more money than they are or have the potential to obtain employment and are choosing not to do so, the court will impute to them the amount of money they could be earning when assessing their individual child support orders.

Family law attorneys who are experienced in child support issues may be able to counsel their clients as to what amount of child support should be anticipated given the individual facts of a particular case. These attorneys can also assist in negotiating comprehensive divorce settlement agreements that would cover other matters as well.

Source: aaml.org, "How to determine CHILD SUPPORT in New Jersey", Mark Gruber , September 28, 2014

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