Understanding “Shared” Parenting for Child Support Purposes

Besides Income, the Most Important Factor in Determining a New Jersey Child Support Obligation is Number of Overnights

Judgment of SolomonAs much as some forlorn parents might be tempted to ask, New Jersey Family Court judges can’t literally “split” children in half when their parents decide to part ways!

The best a judge can do is split parenting time between parents to the greatest extent possible. The term for this type of arrangement is “shared parenting time.”

The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines are complex and can feel daunting for parents unfamiliar with the process. Appendix IX-A defines the key terms and concepts. For the purposes of determining child support in New Jersey, shared parenting is any parenting schedule arrangement where the non-custodial parent exercises between 28% (or 104 overnights) and 50% (or 182.5 overnights) of the total annual overnights with the parties’ children. Such arrangement are sometimes harder to effectuate when the parents live far apart, don’t cooperate and communicate very well, or the children grow older and busier with school, friends, and extracurricular activities.

If you don’t have a shared parenting arrangement, the Court will use a “sole” parenting worksheet to calculate the amount of child support. Shared parenting arrangements warrant the use of a “share” parenting worksheet, but in order to use the shared worksheet, the custodial parent’s income must be 150% or more of the poverty guidelines depending on the size of the family size. The difference between the two worksheets lies in different weights applied to various criteria which decrease the amount of child support considered, specifically, the parent of alternate residence’s related expenses.

Confused? That’s understandable. To make it simple in the interest of understanding the potentially big difference between the worksheets, let’s look at child support for a fictional Mom who is parent of primary residence and grosses $25,000 annually and a Father who earns $65,000. If Dad has 104 overnights with their three kids, and if we don’t consider any other potential expenses that are usually factored into the worksheet (health care premiums, daycare expenses, etc.), then the shared parenting worksheet will generate a $199 per week child support obligation for Dad. What happens if everything else stays the same and Dad drops to only 52 overnights (or every other weekend) with his kids? His obligation jumps to $248 per week.

$49 extra per week, or approximately $210 more monthly, represents a life-changing difference for most middle class Americans! Overnights obviously matter as do the other numerous factors that a court will look at to ascertain child support.

We can help. If you are grappling with a child support matter in New Jersey, a DeMichele & DeMichele attorney will walk you through the process. Most importantly, we will make sure that you have your financial ducks in a row so that the Court can make an informed decision that accurately accesses your need or ability to pay child support.

Always remember: you don’t have to go through this alone! If you or a loved one have questions regarding child support, alimony, equitable distribution, custody, or other family court matters requiring the submission of a case information statement, please contact the New Jersey family law attorneys at DeMichele & DeMichele. Your confidential initial consultation is only a click or call away.  Call now to speak to one of our matrimonial attorneys at (856) 546-1350 or click here to contact us online.

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