In Brick New Jersey, child support amounts are calculated under the “Income Shares Model”, which factors in the net income of both parents. The total child support amount is divided proportionately between each parent, meaning that the parent with the higher income is responsible for a larger portion of support. Along with the parent's income, child support amounts are based on expenses associated with a child's needs, as outlined under the New Jersey Child Support guidelines. According to the guidelines, “support awards include the child's share of expenses for housing, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment, unreimbursed health care up to and including $250 per child per year and miscellaneous items.” Each category includes a thorough list of sub-expenses, which cover just about every necessity imaginable. For example, clothing includes school uniforms, most types of shoes, diapers, and even clothing maintenance services such as dry cleaning and tailoring. Housing expenses include not only mortgage and rent payments, but specific household items such as cleaning products, light fixtures, and toilet paper. There are also provisions that might be surprising to some parents, such as the inclusion of pets, video games and movie rentals under entertainment expenses. Other commonly forgotten items that may be considered necessities fall under miscellaneous expenses. This is a very broad category, encompassing items such as school supplies, books and magazines, and personal care products. In addition, the guidelines list items that are excluded from child support expenses; alcoholic beverages, sports footwear, and finance charges for mortgages and vehicles are just a few of the specified exclusions. One of the most important exclusions pertains to healthcare expenses, which does not cover the cost of adding a child to a parent's medical plan. Per the guidelines, “unreimbursed health care” only covers out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays and non-prescription drugs.
As thorough as the guidelines may seem, they do not account for additional expenses associated with children of high-income parents. Under New Jersey law, parents who collectively earn over $187,200 per year are subject to expenses for specialized needs such as private school, college costs, and car expenses. There is no guarantee, however, that additional expenses will be awarded just because a parent earns a high income. The receiving parent would need to detail each specific expense and prove that these extra items or services are necessary for the well-being of their child. For example, a parent may use a child's school transcript to support the request for funding towards private school and academically gifted programs. In the case of college expenses, the child may petition the courts for support if he or she is at least 18 years of age. Although it's not stated in the guidelines, New Jersey courts generally agree that a college education is a necessity in a child's life. On the other hand, they will require proof of the child's commitment and aptitude towards such an education. The courts will also consider the child's relationship with the paying parent and the receiving parent's ability to contribute, among many other factors. It's important to note that parents who are below the high-income threshold may still be ordered to contribute towards college costs, although the exact contribution amount will be based on the parent's ability to pay.
If you have specific questions about child support expenses and you reside in Brick Township, or you are facing any other issues related to child support, please speak with Partner Vincent C. DeLuca, Esq. Mr. DeLuca specializes in all areas of child custody and support, including support modification requests and child support enforcement orders. Please call (732) 965-3350 to schedule a free consultation.