Many prospective and current clients walk into my office to seek establishment, modification or outright termination of their child support obligations and are a little surprised when I ask to see certain documentation:
So, why are we pegging my income at $800 per week when I only take home $350?”
The answer lies in the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, the rules and regulations promulgated by the New Jersey Supreme Court that govern the calculation of child support calculations in our state except in very narrow circumstances. They make for admittedly dense reading:
- Rule 5:6A
- Appendix IX A
- Appendix IX B
- Appendix IX C
- Appendix IX D
- Appendix IX E
- Appendix IX F
- Appendix IX G (DELETED)
- Appendix IX H
The answer to our hypothetical clients’ question above is that the Guidelines – unlike the more subjective analysis involved in determining alimony – is largely mathematics and is based on gross income, not net income.
Check out Appendix IX-B above. Gross income minus allowable deductions of both parents is the starting point.
And by gross income, we mean ALL of it. Not just wages (W-2), commissions, bonuses and self-employment (your 1099-MISC) income but also dividend and interest income, rent from rental properties, worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance benefits or even pensions and retirement income. A notable exception arises in the case of recipients of SSI or TANF benefits, but even then, the Court could still hold the payor capable of earning additional income. The Court could also decide to impute income to a payor or payee, a complex analysis you can start learning about here.
In any event, once each party’s gross income is established, the Court may deduct income taxes, mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement contributions, and support paid to children or spouses of other relationship by court order. Credit is also given for children’s health insurance premium payments and work-related daycare expenses. You may even be eligible for a deduction based on children from other relationships residing in your home.
Of course, all of these variables are JUST the tip of the child support iceberg.
We’re here to help you navigate the ins and outs of child support in New Jersey.
Help is only a quick phone call or e-mail away. We’re here to walk you through the process and achieve a best-case outcome given the facts of your case. If you have any questions regarding the determination of income for child support, or family court matters generally in New Jersey, please contact us online today or call (856) 546-1350 for a confidential consultation with one of our skilled family court lawyers.