Child Support Lawyers in New Jersey
When married parents divorce or separate, or when only one of the unmarried parents has custody of a child, the court may order the non-custodial parent, or the one with whom the child does not live, to pay a certain portion of his or her income as child support. When the child is in the custody of both parents, however, and the parents are providing a reasonable level of support, the law usually does not interfere with or regulate the amount of financial support provided.
In the United States, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce and almost one-fourth of all children are born to unmarried parents. As a result, the regulation of child support is an important social issue. Whereas once the arrangement for and payment of child support was left to the parents, now state child support enforcement agencies are taking an aggressive role in seeking payments from non-custodial parents. Frequently, the agency and the court will work together to implement a child support withholding order, by which the child support amount is automatically taken from the payer’s paycheck. If the child support payments become delinquent, the agency can implement other collection mechanisms, such as withholding support amounts from tax refunds or seizing real estate or personal property.
Child support orders are issued by the family court, which bases the amount of support on Pennsylvania or New Jersey state child support guidelines. These guidelines establish the amount of required support, based largely on the non-custodial parent’s income and the number of children. The court will also take into account other relevant factors, such as the custodial parent’s income and the needs of the children. The court can deviate from the guidelines if there are significant reasons to do so. The fact that the custodial parent has a high income does not justify deviation from the guidelines; by law, children have the right to benefit from both parents’ incomes. Child support can be increased if there is a change in circumstances justifying the increase, such as an increase in the payer’s income or the cost of living, a decrease in the custodial parent’s income, or an increase in the child’s needs. Similarly, the amount can be reduced if the circumstances justify the reduction.
In cases involving unmarried mothers seeking child support, the first step may be to legally establish the father’s paternity of the child. The father can do this voluntarily, but if he does not the mother may need to bring a lawsuit to establish paternity, which is usually done using genetic (DNA) testing. The court will order the putative or alleged, father to submit to the testing if he does not agree to do so voluntarily. Once paternity is established, the court will issue an order for child support. When the non-custodial parent moves to another state, the custodial parent may have to rely on the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act to implement or ensure payment of child support. This Act provides the procedure by which a support order issued in one state can be enforced by the courts of another state.
Common Child Support Questions
How can child support payments be estimated in NJ?
How long are child support payments in NJ?
How do New Jersey Courts Calculate Child Support?
Today New Jersey calculates the final amount using a complex equation. The formula factors in things like:
Each parent’s income,
The number of children,
The children’s needs,
The parent’s ability to help pay for these needs, and
The children’s standard of living before the divorce.
Most family law attorneys have and frequently use software to assist in computing the guideline child support amount. The formulas are based on studies on the normal costs for a family to raise children. However, each case is unique, so it is often difficult to predict an amount with absolute certainty.
What is the Child Support Process in New Jersey?
Per federal law, child support payments are made through income withholding, meaning payments are automatically deducted from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck. If income withholding is unavailable, a court order will instruct the non-custodial parent to pay the set amount at intervals such as weekly or monthly.
What Happens If the Non-Custodial Parent Won’t Pay?
- Requiring the non-custodial parent’s employer to deduct money from his or her pay
- Taking the past-due amount from a tax refund or other lump sum of money
- Seizing assets and property such as bank accounts, cars, real estate, etc.
- Issuing a warrant
- Returning the case to court to discuss the agreement
- Reporting the payment delinquency to a credit reporting agency
The law is on the custodial parent’s side when he or she is owed child support payments, and the New Jersey Child Support Agency has a variety of enforcement tools available. When a custodial parent reports payment issues to the Child Support Agency right away, he or she can obtain the necessary assistance to enforce the court order.
How does a case change if the Non-Custodial Parent Moves Out of State?
If income withholding is inapplicable or another factor prevents the payment process from going smoothly, the custodial parent may need to file a petition to ask the other state to enforce the child support order. The local office will help the custodial parent file the appropriate documentation to ensure all the requirements are met to enforce the order in the non-custodial parent’s new home state.
Getting Legal Assistance
While the tension between former spouses may continue through the conclusion of a family-related legal matter, it’s not uncommon for one parent to act vindictively against the other. Refusing to comply with a child support agreement is a bad idea, as serious legal issues can arise when support is involved.
Unfortunately, these and other related obstacles can still arise after your legal matter has concluded. The team at Petrelli Previtera can help you navigate and overcome child support issues with as little stress and confusion as possible.
A Family law attorney may also represent either parent in a support modification proceeding or in a proceeding to establish or disprove paternity. Given that the well-being of a child is at stake, child support issues are an important concern, and the assistance of an experienced lawyer is essential to the process.
If you or someone you know may be in need of legal assistance regarding a family law issue, please feel free to contact us at 866-465-5395 and we would be happy to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers for you.