New Jersey law requires both parents to support their child or children. The amount of child support a parent pays depends on the income of both parents and the child’s needs. It also depends on how much time each parent spends with the child and other resources.
Establishing Child Support
During a divorce, child support can be established in two ways: between you and the other parent or by court order.
Consent Support Agreement
Since the law does allow parents to negotiate child support agreements out of court, you may want to try this option first. This requires sitting down with the other parent and looking at both incomes and your child’s education, medical expenses and other needs.
You may also need to take into account child support obligations from any prior relationships, as well as the costs associated with any additional expenses, such as daycare.
If you can agree on a specific amount, you present a Consent Support Agreement to the judge. Submitting the document, which states the amount you are going to pay, does not require a court appearance.
Talking to an Attorney Prior to Negotiations
If you are the noncustodial parent paying child support, it’s natural to want to pay the correct amount without paying too much. If you are the custodial parent, you may want the other parent to pay as much as possible to help you make ends meet. Regardless of whether you are paying or receiving child support, it will be helpful to sit down with a lawyer to figure out the amount you should pay. This negotiation includes some basic steps such as figuring out:
- The amount of time the child spends with each parent. Child support goes hand-in-hand with child custody arrangements. Thus, the parent who is scheduled to spend more time with the child may be award a larger child support payment.
- Income of you and the other parent
- A list of child related expenses (this includes things like extracurricular activities, school supplies, etc.)
When You and the Other Parent Don’t Agree
If you and the other parent cannot agree on the amount of support to be paid, you will have to appear in the Family Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. In Family Court, a judge will review the facts and issues surrounding the child support.
The law has strict, uniform child support guidelines that are used. Typically, three types of costs are examined within the guidelines:
- Fixed costs
- Controlled costs
- Variable costs
Fixed costs include expenses that are created regardless of which parent your child resides with such as rent or mortgage. Controlled costs include things like entertainment and clothes. These costs tend to vary between you and the other parent. Variable costs are incurred only when the child is staying with you.
Child support payments are set based on the guidelines. It is best to discuss with an attorney what amount you are entitled to receive or what amount you are required to pay. Sometimes a parent goes to court expecting to receive a higher child support payment than the other parent was offering and is surprised to receive less.
It is important to speak with a child support attorney. Contact Fontanella, Benevento, Galluccio & Smith. We are determined to getting you a favorable outcome in your child support negotiations.