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The Determination of Child Support

It is the law that both parents contribute to the support of children that they bring into this world. New Jersey, similar to most states, have promulgated guidelines for the Court's use in determining the amount of child support. As a result, the Family Part Judges have now set child support in a uniform fashion throughout the State. A collateral benefit of child support guidelines is that it takes much of the anxiety and conflict out of the determination of the amount of support a parent is to pay. Parents are free to argue to the Court that their particular case presents unique circumstances which render the guidelines inapplicable. However, in most cases the guidelines are utilized not only in settlements but also at trial. The actual computations should be left to the attorneys, Probation personnel, or Family Part Judges.

The theory behind the guidelines is that parents in different income levels spend a certain percentage of their combined incomes or a specific amount of money toward raising their child or children. The statistics were generated as part of a socioeconomic study for the Courts of New Jersey.

The ratio of after tax income to the aggregate is frequently utilized by the Courts to determine a parent's contribution toward unreimbursed medical expenses, extraordinary expenses, day care and special education needs.

When Does Child Support End? - Emancipation

Living on one's own, entry into the armed forces, self-supporting and above the legal age are traditional notions of emancipation. The Family Court will generally discontinue a child support obligation when a child graduates from high school and does not continue onto higher education. A brief hiatus between high school and college is often permitted to allow a child room to decide upon continued education. When a child goes onto post-high school education, the child, generally, is unemancipated. The degree of emancipation bears upon the obligation and amount of child support. A child living at home attending community college on a full-time basis will usually not trigger a termination or reduction in child support by the non-custodial parent. Attendance at college away from the home of the custodial parent may result in the reduction of child support to an amount below the Child Support Guidelines. The reason is that ordinarily the payor parent is contributing to the room and board expenses of the college and the payee parent has an equivalent reduction in expense.

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