Child support in New Jersey helps to ensure that children receive the financial support they need, even if their parents are no longer together. However, the rules regarding child support can be complicated, especially when dealing with extras like school tuition, college costs, or extracurricular activities. The court can make determinations, or a family can take the power out of the hands of the court by making these decisions together.
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How Child Support Is Calculated in New Jersey
The amount of child support in New Jersey is usually determined by using a worksheet that considers:
- The type of custody arrangement in place
- The incomes of both parents
- The estimated cost of childcare
- The time the child spends with each parent
However, this calculation only has to do with the basic amount of child support. The child support order can specifically address other expenses related to the child.
The cost of healthcare may not be included in the base child support amount. However, the child support order may provide an allocation of financial responsibility between the parents to pay for healthcare expenses such as:
- Health insurance
- Copays and deductibles
- Dental and vision care
- Special services, such as speech, physical, or occupational therapy
Children with special needs may have high medical costs, so these costs should be considered and fairly divided as part of the child support process.
The amount of base child support in New Jersey does not include costs for extracurricular expenses. Some extracurricular expenses parents may want to include in child support arrangements include:
- Piano lessons
- Club expenses
- Sports-related expenses
- The child’s travel to and from games or competitions
- Specialty camps to help the child improve their skills
Private School Tuition
If your child was attending private school before your separation, tuition may be part of your child support order. If your child had not yet enrolled in private school, the court can consider factors to determine whether this route is in the child’s best interests and if the parent of alternate residence will be responsible for paying for or contributing to this expense.
Child support generally continues until the child turns 19 or graduates high school. However, parents can agree to split the costs of college and include this agreement in the child support order.
Teen Driver Expenses
As a child gets older, their expenses may increase. They may also start to demonstrate more independence by learning how to drive, getting an after-school job, or driving themselves to school. Parents can consider expenses related to a teen’s first car, including:
- Who will pay for the car
- What type of car the teen will drive
- Who will pay for driving lessons or driving school
- Which parent will cover the teen on their car insurance
How Mediation Can Help with Child Support Issues
Child support is a given in a New Jersey divorce or child custody case. However, this does not mean that parents have to fight over this issue. Through mediation, parents can work together to reach an amicable agreement regarding child support. When working with an effective mediator, parents may be able to:
- Identify specific financial needs of their individual child
- Create a family budget and written schedule to identify each parent’s responsibilities related to extracurricular activities
- Discuss their ideas for their child’s education, such as private school or college expectations
- Split expenses through a fair cost sharing arrangement
- Reach an agreement that prevents them from having to pay expensive legal fees
- Customize solutions that fit the family’s unique needs
- Avoid having the court intervene in a family’s situation and dictate decisions when the parents are capable of making better decisions for their own family
- Create a cost-effective plan for the future in case any conflicts arise in the future
Additionally, mediation increases the odds that parents will be able to work together in a civil manner, which can create a strong foundation for a positive co-parenting relationship.
Contact a Knowledgeable Freehold NJ Child Support Lawyer and Mediator for Help
If you are unsure of your rights and obligations related to child support, having a knowledgeable Freehold NJ child support lawyer and mediator can help. Contact the Law Office of Andrew R. Fischer today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your child support case. I’ll explain your options and how I can help when you call me.