According to the New Jersey Child Support website, parents are responsible for providing the “financial, medical and emotional support a child needs to grow into a responsible adult.” These “needs” comprise a vast array of goods and services, such as food, clothing, shelter, childcare and health insurance. A child's needs, however, is decided on a case-by-case basis since each family has its own set of unique circumstances. In an ideal situation, parents are able to work out the expenses that will be covered by child support, along with the amount that each parent should contribute. One of the problems that many parents run into during this process is knowing exactly which expenses are or aren't covered under the child support guidelines.
According to the state guidelines, food, clothing, shelter, transportation and unreimbursed medical costs must be included in the standard support calculations. Miscellaneous expenses such as entertainment and extra-curricular fees may also be included. Within these categories, there are specific conditions that need to be met in order to qualify as an eligible expense. Housing, for example, includes many expenses such as property taxes, home insurance, rent, utilities and landscaping services. What may surprise some people is that mortgage principal payments do not qualify as a child support expense. Mortgage principle falls under the category of “savings” as it adds value/ equity to the home. Child support is meant to cover the incidental housing expenses on behalf of the children such as utilities and property. It should be noted, however, that mortgage interest payments are a qualifying expense since this is an ongoing expense incurred as a direct result of the children's housing needs.
Another essential category is clothing, which can include things like diapers, athletic footwear and jewelry, in addition to clothing. Children's clothing needs change over time as they grow and engage in various sports and extracurricular activities. Along with the actual items, maintenance services such alterations and dry cleaning also count as clothing expenses. Transportation is another consideration as children get older, especially once they receive their driver's license. Depending on circumstances such as where they live, whether they have a job, etc., you may need to support them with public transportation fees or car payments. Car insurance, tolls and car repairs are incidental expenses that may need to be covered as well.
While car payments are decided on an individual basis, medical coverage in the form of health insurance, and up to $250 per year of unreimbursed medical expenses is an absolute requirement. Medical coverage provisions are very specific, but it can be tricky to keep up with a child's medical expenses, and who's paying for what. According to the guidelines, the recipient parent must be paying the first $250 per year in unreimbursed medical expenses. Anything above that, per year, should be split between both parents. For more information on eligible medical expenses, as well as all other eligible child support expenses, please speak with the attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.