Child support in New Jersey is paid on a weekly basis by the non-custodial parent (the Parent of Alternate Residence – PAR) to the custodial parent (the Parent of Primary Residence – PPR). The amount of child support to be paid is calculated by using one of two worksheets which are contained in the Appendix to the New Jersey Court Rules.
The two worksheets are: The Shared Parenting Worksheet and the Sole Parenting Worksheet.
The Shared Parenting Worksheet is used to calculate child support when the non-custodial parent has two or more overnights per week, and the parent of alternate residence can demonstrate that the child has separate living accommodations maintained specifically for the child. The Sole Parenting Worksheet is used when the non-custodial parent has less than two overnights per week. An overnight is not what we commonly understand as an overnight (night into morning period). An overnight for child support purposes is “more than 12 hours” or the majority of a 24-hour day.
The amount of child support paid by the non-custodial parent is inversely proportional to the number of overnights that the non-custodial parent has with the child. Stated simply, the more overnights that the non-custodial parent has with the child, the less child support that they pay to the custodial parent. The fewer overnights that the no-custodial parent has with the child the more child support that they have to pay the custodial parent.
It should be noted that although the non-custodial parent is paying child support to the custodial parent that does not mean that the custodial parent does not have a child support obligation. Both parents have a child support obligation. Both the sole and shared parenting worksheets breakout and display the total parental child support obligation, and each parent’s proportionate share of the total child support obligation. So when the non-custodial parent complains about the amount of child support that they have to pay, he or she should realize that they are not paying 100% of the child support obligation. They are only paying their proportionate share of the total child support obligation.
Line 1 Of The New Jersey Child Support Worksheet – Parent’s Income
Once you’ve determined who is the custodial parent and who is the non-custodial parent, and which worksheet to use (sole or shared) the parent’s incomes should be inputted on Line 1 of the worksheet. If both parents are employed then each parent’s weekly gross income is placed on Line 1 of the worksheet. In the normal case there is no issue in calculating parental income. However, if either parent receives bonuses, or their income fluctuates, or they only work part-time, or they are unemployed or underemployed, then income calculation becomes an issue.
Overtime Pay, Bonuses and Child Support
If the payor (person paying child support) receives overtime pay from work, bonuses, commissions or other irregular income the average amount of that pay is included in the payor’s gross income. Depending on the circumstances the time period used to calculate the overtime, bonus, or commission average can be average pay over 12 months (overtime pay), or average pay over 36 months (bonus or commission pay), or average pay from when the irregular pay first started.
Part-Time Income and Child Support
If the payor (the person paying child support) works part-time a full-time income should be imputed unless the payor can satisfy the court that they can only work part-time.
Unemployed or Underemployed Parents and Child Support
If either parent is unemployed and they are receiving unemployment benefits the unemployment benefit income is included as income on the child support worksheet. If a parent is unemployed and they are not receiving unemployment benefits then income may be imputed to them. Similarly, if a parent has unreported income because they are working “off the books” or “under the table” the court can impute income to that parent.
How and When the Court Imputes Income for Child Support Purposes
If a parent reports that they have no income, or the income that they report is low when considering their talents and experience you can prepare a case to have the court impute income to them for the purposes of calculating child support. For example, if a father states that he has absolutely no income to pay child support and you have some information on his prior employers I can subpoena his earnings information from those employers. Based on information received from his prior employers (if his pay was direct deposited) I may be able to subpoena his bank accounts. Based on the information gathered I can make a case to the court that he has earned a certain amount of money in the past and that the court should impute a similar wage to him for child support purposes. In the example above I would ask the court to deem the non-working, non-paying father as being voluntarily unemployed or voluntarily underemployed. If the court accepts the argument presented the Judge can impute a weekly income to the father which will generate a weekly child support obligation.
Parents Who Under-Report Their Income
Similar to the parent who states that they are unemployed is the parent who has their own business and reports a ridiculously low income. If a parent who has their own business reports a low income, application can be made to the court for discovery of the parent’s bank accounts and income tax returns. If necessary a full forensic audit of the other parent’s business can be undertaken to determine cash flow.
If the payee (person receiving child support) is also receiving alimony from the other parent or is receiving alimony from a previous relationship the alimony payment is considered income to them. If it is a monthly amount of alimony the weekly income is calculated by dividing by 4.3 weeks (not 4.0 weeks).
The following income is also includible as income for calculation of child support: gains on sale of real estate, interest and dividends, net rental income from rental properties, distributions from retirement plans, including IRA’s and social security payments, social security disability income, and worker’s compensation income.
I have been representing residents of Bergen, Hudson, Passaic, and Essex counties in child support matters for over 20 years. If you have any questions regarding your child support situation, or if you need an experienced child support lawyer to represent your interests in court don’t hesitate to contact me at 201-731-3086. Or e-mail me directly using the contact form on this page. Your consultation is free of charge.