Establishing Child Support
Child Support Attorneys in Morris County
Working toward what’s best for your family
Child support is a part of one of the key aspects of being a parent—taking care of your children. Yet because it involves paying or receiving money from a former partner, the process of establishing child support is emotionally complex and often seems to extend beyond the direct relationship with your child.
At Jacobs Berger, we understand that parents want to put their children first—and that coming to a monetary agreement with a former spouse can be challenging.
We believe that if the process focuses on children, it can be easier to reach an agreement. In order to support a constructive approach, we always encourage clients to attempt mediation or negotiation before pursuing trial litigation.
To learn more about establishing child support or how we guide parents through the process, contact our experienced child support attorneys today.
How does child support work?
Child support is the allocation of total income between parents to support their child or children. Often, it can include one parent paying the other and the parties proportionally sharing expenses which may not be included by that direct payment.
Child support helps create a consistent foundation for children as they grow.
Calculating child support
New Jersey has a set formula for establishing child support, but not for how the payments will be paid or received. There is little to no room for parents to debate how much child support should be given each month, but they do need to decide together how long it will last.
Child support in New Jersey is calculated by considering many factors, including:
- Parental finances, such as income, bonuses, overtime, commissions, assets, and tax status
- How much time children will spend with each parent, as decided in the Child Custody and Parenting Time agreement
- The age and number of children
- The cost of childcare for parents to work
- Children’s healthcare costs
- Any existing child support obligations from previous relationships
There is strong precedent in New Jersey for requiring parents to pay support towards a child’s college education.
Unless otherwise specified in the agreement, permanent child support lasts until the child turns nineteen, joins the military, gets married themselves, or experiences another emancipation event. Additionally, child support payments can’t continue beyond the child’s 23rd birthday.
At Jacobs Berger, we can help you find constructive solutions which plan for you and your children’s financial future—while simultaneously preventing unnecessary conflict between you and your future co-parent. This process results in a more stable and healthy home-life for you and, most importantly, your children.
Establishing Temporary Child Support
Because divorce processes take time, temporary child support may need to be established during the divorce process itself. Also known as a “pendente lite” arrangement, which roughly translates into “awaiting litigation,” temporary child support is established using many of the same processes as permanent child support.
Parental incomes and children’s needs and ages are all considered. How the courts calculate temporary child support can be an indication of, but isn’t dispositive of, what their decisions around permanent child support will look like.
However, with temporary child support, certain key elements in the equation—such as how much overnight parenting time each parent may have—may not be established yet.
Our attorneys at Jacobs Berger take pride in offering dynamic and individualized legal solutions for our clients and their families, including for temporary family support.
Establishing Permanent Child Support
Temporary child support is established to meet the needs of children and caregivers during the divorce process. When a divorce is finalized, this type of child support converts to or is replaced by an ongoing child support agreement. While no child support agreement is truly permanent, this type of support is designed to last until a child turns nineteen or graduates from college unless a modification is requested. Establishing child support in New Jersey is a process parents may need to go through if they have children together—regardless of whether they were married or not.
How child support amounts are determined
New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines attempt to simulate how much of an intact family’s income would be spent on a child and then apply those numbers in situations where parents are divorcing or not raising a child as part of one household.
While the courts understand that the expenses of a two-household family will be different from those of a one-household family, the state’s child support laws aim to afford children with divorced, separated, or unmarried parents or caregivers the same opportunities as children with parents of similar financial means who are married or living in the same household. Among other things, the guidelines consider parents’ incomes, the ages and needs of children, and how custody is divided.
Modifying or concluding child support
Unless otherwise specified, child support in New Jersey lasts until the child turns nineteen. But increasingly, parents and state courts are considering the impact a college education can have on a child’s future opportunities—and working to ensure that children receive some support for and during their higher education. All child support agreements must end when the child turns 23.
Child support agreements can also be modified in response to major life changes.
At Jacobs Berger, we recognize that establishing child support and agreeing on how long it should last is an important process for co-parents to go through—and one that has long-term impacts. Our child support agreement attorneys work to give practical, goal-oriented advice designed to help clients weigh options and plan for long-term sustainable success.
How to Get Child Support in New Jersey
If you’re beginning a divorce or dissolving a civil union, creating a child support agreement will be part of the legal separation process. If you and your co-parent haven’t married or formed a civil union, you can initiate the process of creating a child support agreement with the help of an attorney or by filing through your local child support office.
Child support for non-divorcing co-parents
The local county Probation Department will guide you through a process:
- You’ll need to open a child support case by completing an application.
- The child support office will attempt to locate the other parent with any information you can provide.
- The office will then establish parentage. This can range from an acknowledgement from your co-parent to genetic testing.
- Next, the office will establish a child support order, which determines how much your co-parent must pay and is determined by state guidelines.
- Child support payments can then be set up. Deducting payments from a paycheck is a common approach.
- You or your co-parent can ask the child support agency to review the order in response to major life changes or, in the absence of these changes, every three years.
At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are experienced in establishing child support, as well as following up with modifications or enforcement.
Collecting Child Support
The primary role of New Jersey courts is to provide child support guidelines and calculate how much should be paid.
Courts also have the ability to determine how child support is paid. Although recipients have the right to request child support via income withholding, the courts can choose to exempt payors from income withholding on a case-by-case basis.
The court can also order the performance of custody evaluations, the results of which can impact custody—and therefore child support calculations.
The child support collection process can proceed differently for different families.
One of the most commonly requested methods for child support payments is to have it automatically deducted from the payor’s paycheck and deposited directly into the payee’s bank account. This way, there is a clear record of payments, amounts, and times. This can be monitored by the State, via the local or county probation departments.
The family law attorneys at Jacobs Berger can guide you through the process of establishing child support and collecting or setting up payments. We have experience working with many different families in reaching resolutions that work for everyone.
Enforcing Child Support
New Jersey’s child support guidelines aim to support children while leaving parents financially stable. The formula for calculating support does this by considering many different factors. However, for any number of reasons, a parent may stop making payments or may not make payments in full. When this happens, the other parent must pursue the enforcement of payments.
Child support and the Department of Human Services
The parent who receives the payments can register with the Department of Human Services to get assistance in pursuing enforcement. Or, if they’re already registered, the DHS will take care of enforcement for them.
However, DHS is a public department that needs to support many, many families. As such, they don’t have the time and resources to provide highly individualized attention and support, and your case must proceed through a bureaucratic process.
Many parents prefer to work with an attorney to file a child support enforcement motion with the family law courts directly.
New Jersey courts have a number of methods for ensuring child support obligations are met, including:
- Withholding income on paychecks
- Intercepting income tax refunds
- Reporting to credit agencies
- Revoking the payor’s driver’s license and/or passport
- Seizure of assets
- Requiring payment of additional late-payment interest, and sometimes legal fees
At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys have extensive experience establishing child support agreements, payments, and enforcement. If your co-parent is refusing to abide by the terms agreed upon in your child support settlement, our family law team is ready to help you today.
Contact a Morris County Child Support Attorney
The family law team at Jacobs Berger has helped many families in New Jersey reach fair and constructive child support agreements of all kinds.
We help clients build solid financial futures for their families.
Whether you’re in the process of creating a child support agreement, need to make a modification, or would like to streamline the enforcement process, our attorneys have the skills and experience to help. Contact us today for a strategic planning session.