Even since the Rachel Channing case, in which a child sued her parent’s for private school tuition and college, the attorneys at my office have been busy fielding questions from our divorce clients regarding why they are legally compelled to pay for college whereas married people are not. So as I considered my next topic for my next New Jersey Divorce Lawyer Blog, I felt it would be appropriate to discuss the case that established the limited exceptions (in this case, college related expenses) from the general rule that parents are not responsible for their children after they reach the “age of maturity.”
A difficult aspect of being a New Jersey Divorce Attorney is when children become affected by the demise of the family unit. Even worse is when one or both parents are unable to co-parent during or after their New Jersey divorce or “break up.” At worst, the parents cannot even agree on basic, day-to-day decisions regarding their children. The good news is that in recent years, New Jersey Family lawyers and judges have enjoyed great success by appointing Parenting Coordinator. Let’s explore.
As a practicing New Jersey divorce attorney, I deal with divorcing couples on a daily basis and the majority of those cases involve children. When a divorce case involves a child, it will inevitably also involve the issue of college and the allocation of responsibility for the costs associated with same. Unfortunately, some relationships between a parent and a child break down to the point where one party may not be in the loop as to the college selection process or the costs associated with the child attendance at a particular school. Often, this leads to a lawyer’s involvement, even when the divorce has been finalized years ago at a New Jersey Family Court. What is a parent’s obligation to contribute towards college in such a situation? Does the child have to take out loans, etc. to help subsidize these costs?
As a seasoned divorce attorney, I have often argued in New Jersey Family Courts that the other party is “voluntarily underemployed” in order to reduce the amount of support that they should be paying to my client. Often, the other lawyer will argue, “Well Your Honor, my client does have a full-time job.” It is times like this that I and the other lawyers at my divorce law firm argue that the Family Part of New Jersey Court’s must also consider that person’s employment history, education and experience and job obtainability. A simple example would be a doctor who earns $300,000 per year. However, just as he realizes that his marriage is heading for a divorce, he quits his job and obtains full-time employment at Home Depot. In this case, before the divorce is finalized, the court would certainly see through this transparent attempt to reduce support and impute the $300,000 upon the doctor.
One basis for reduction in New Jersey child support is the occurrence of a change in financial circumstances of either party. Accordingly, clients who seek a reduction of their child support obligation will reasonably ask whether that the reduction can date back to the date in which the changed circumstance commenced. For example, the applicant losing his/her job, the payee spouse’s significant increase in income, disability, and many other reasons.
In a New Jersey Family Court, a frequent issue when trying to determine the correct child support award one of the parents’ income is not a concrete number. In such cases, the court has the power to impute income upon one (or both) of the parents to best reflect what it will be in the coming year. As a family law attorney, my clients often want to know what standards will be utilized when making such a calculation. Pursuant to the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, a court will impute income “based on potential employment and earning capacity using the parent’s work history, occupational qualifications, education background, and prevailing job opportunities in the region.”
A very common issue that I routinely see as a practicing New Jersey child support attorney, and one that is always a hot topic for lawyers and the public alike, concerns the issue of child support and when a child may be emancipated. Most parents on both sides of the spectrum have many questions as to what the law is on this issue, what their rights are and what might happen in their particular situation. The issue can become even more confusing and troubling if a child has graduated high school, does not attend your typical four (4) year college, but is instead enrolled in a trade school. Following is a legal analysis of experienced attorney divorce and child support attorney.
As a New Jersey lawyer since 1995, a frequently asked question by my clients is, “what exactly does my child support pay for?” To this very day, the attorneys at my law firm they explain that there are certain “activities” that is covered as per New Jersey’s Child SupportGuidelines, yet other “extraordinary expenses” are not. For example, if your child wants a new video game, that would be included in a child support payment. However, if your child suddenly decides that they would like to take equestrian horseback lessons, this would be likely deemed to be an extraordinary expense. The following appellate division case provides a nice illustration as to what child support covers and does not.
Yes. The child support lawyers at our East Brunswick, New Jersey, law firm will always ensure that we receive any and all information regarding a parent’s income in order to ensure that the children are protected. Furthermore, our attorneys always make sure that both parents are paying the proper amount as per New Jersey’s child support guidelines. In the following case, a parent went to a child support hearing and asked for an adjournment because she had not been allowed to review the other parent’s income documentation. The trial judge denied her request. However the New Jersey Appellate decision reversed the trial court because she should have been granted an opportunity to review this information before the child support hearing took place.
The goal of the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines was to establish a level of fairness and uniformity when a Court awards child support in this state. As a New Jersey Family Attorney, I know that the Guidelines were also developed based on one parent being designated as the “Parent of Primary Residence” and the other parent as the “Parent of Alternate Residence”. However, as an equal parenting time schedule between divorced couples becomes more common (as opposed to the more traditional “every other weekend” schedule), the designation of Parent of Primary Residence vs. Parent of Alternate residence becomes less applicable for purposes of establishing an appropriate New Jersey child support award. Very often, this designation is made strictly for school enrollment purposes if say one parent will be living outside the school district, despite exercising equal parenting time.