Child Support: Protecting Yourself from a Scam
Over my nearly 20 years as a New Jersey divorce and family lawyer, I have maintained that child support is not optional – both parents are responsible for making sure their children are financially cared for, and the child support laws here in the garden state agree.
Child Support goes hand-in-hand with custody arrangements and is based on a series of very specific formulas called New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines are based on three major factors: the expenses of raising the child, the income levels of each parent, and the number of nights during the week the child will spend with each parent.
Some individuals feel that they can skirt the system by falsifying documents related to their income and costs of certain activities. Here are some great things to look out for in your ex-spouse when child support is being calculated and then in your post-divorce life:
Your ex-spouse may have severely underestimated his/her income level. During child support calculations, it is not easy to misrepresent your income, but it can be done in many ways. Self-employed individuals can hide income if they receive it in the form of cash (they just don’t declare it) or they can temporarily reduce the amount they pay themselves. If an employer pays your ex-spouse in cash, then they can lie about the amount received. And, if determined enough, tax returns can be falsified. Y
A good way to assess if your spouse or ex-spouse has lied is to evaluate his/her lifestyle and see if it is reflective of his/her stated income. For instance, a good red flag is if he claims his annual compensation is $40,000, yet is driving a new Mercedes or takes an elaborate vacation several times a year. If the lifestyle you observe could not possibly be supported by the financial information he declared, you may have an issue that needs to be addressed.
During the calculation of child support, your ex-spouse may have hidden assets. Please take a minute to review my previous blog post on this topic to to get an understanding of the many sneaky ways you may have been cheated.