In New Jersey, child support is calculated using a formula established by statute. The Child Support Guidelines take into account the number of children, the age of the children, the income of the parents, the number of overnights the children spend with the parents, etc. The Child Support Guidelines do not apply to all families and in those cases, the Court will establish an appropriate amount of support. Additionally, if the Court finds it appropriate, it may choose to deviate from the Guidelines. Once established, child support remains in place until the child is emancipated, either by circumstance or automatically by age, with few exceptions.
The parent who has the obligation to pay child support pays the full amount to the other parent, usually weekly. Although child support is not paid directly to the child, it is paid for the benefit of the child to ensure that their basic needs are met. The point of child support is to split financial responsibility for raising the child(ren) between both parents.
What expenses are covered by a child support obligation?
A detailed list of the expenses included in child support under the Guidelines can be found in Paragraph 8 of Appendix 9A to the New Jersey Rules of Court.
Under the Guidelines, child support covers fixed costs including shelter. Shelter costs include: rent, mortgage, utilities, etc. of the child’s primary home. It also includes variable costs including transportation and food; as well as controlled costs such as clothing, entertainment, and furnishings for the child. The child support amount also includes predictable recurring expenses like field trips, extra-curricular activities, and school supplies. The first $250 per year in out-of-pocket medical costs is also included in child support.
While work-related child care costs can be included in child support, if used in the calculations, tuition for private, parochial schools, vocational schools or post-secondary education are is not included in child support. However, expenses, that do not include tuition not tuition, incurred while attending college may be included in child support.
Some of these expenses are not applicable to me. Can my spouse ask for a modification?
No. If one of these included expenses is not applicable to a certain family, that does not constitute a basis to deviate from the guidelines or modify a child support award. Appendix 9A, Para. 8.
My child’s parent will not buy any clothing for our child because he or she says that they pay child support and should not be obligated to pay anything else. Are they correct?
No. The amount of time that the child spend with each parent directly affects the amount of child support awarded. The child support award is therefore, not meant to supplement the needs for the children at both residences. Meaning, if you are the parent who is obligated to pay child support, the spouse receiving child support is not responsible for using those funds to supply food, clothing, entertainment, etc. for use at your residence and during your parenting time. The expenses for raising a child should be shared, meaning both parents must provide for the child and the child support amount paid to the other parent is not a substitute for your contribution to raising the child during your parenting time.
I have a child support order, but my child started playing competitive sports. Can I ask for additional support from my child’s parent?
Maybe. The cost of clothing and gear/equipment associated with extra-curricular activities (except for special footwear such as cleats or skates) is included in child support under the Guidelines. Therefore, the parent paying child support would not be required to pay any additional amount toward extra-curricular activities. However, Parents may anticipate the cost of extra-curricular activities and choose to stipulate a percentage that each parent will contribute to extra-curricular activities in the written agreement that establishes child support.
I recently began a new job and am making a higher income; can my child’s parent ask for a modification of the child support award?
Yes. Child support can be modified based on a permanent change of circumstances. The Court will analyze the facts of your case and determine whether your new employment amounts to a permanent change of circumstances. The reason that child support is able to be modified is that children are always able to share in the standard of living of both parents. For example, if you won the lottery tomorrow, that would amount to a permanent change in circumstances and the Court would ensure that your child received a benefit from your increased income.
I pay child support and I think my child’s parent is using that money for themselves. Can I terminate my child support obligation?
Maybe. The parent who receives child support should not use the child support payments received for their own personal expenses that are unrelated to the child. If you can establish that the child’s basic needs (food, shelter, transportation, clothing) are not being met, you may be able to ask the court to compel the other parent to account for how the child support money is being spent. While child support is paid for the benefit of the child and should be used for them and the expenses listed in Appendix A, Paragraph 8 of the New Jersey Court Rules, the reality is that the custodial parent can spend the money as they like, so long as the child’s needs are being met.
If you have any questions about child support or need assistance in establishing or modifying a child support order, go to www.HunnellLaw.com/contact to schedule a meeting with an attorney.
 New Jersey Court Rule 5:6A
 Appendix 9B
 Appendix 9A
 Appendix 9A
Stephanie Hunnell, Esq. , Ryan Westerman, Esq. and Caitlin Holland, Esq.