Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Factors Influencing Child Support in New Jersey

There are two types of custody, the first is legal custody and the second is physical custody. Legal custody is defined by a case called Pascal vs. Pascal. In this case, the New Jersey Supreme Court said that legal custody is the legal right to make major decisions affecting the minor child, which includes, but is not limited to health, education, and religious upbringing. 

Should you have questions about common factors influencing child support in New Jersey, it may be imperative to contact an attorney. A skilled child support lawyer can work with you towards an appropriate plan for your family. 

Understanding Physical Custody

Physical custody is typically what people consider to be the custody that they are questioning and that is the amount of parenting time that a parent is spending with their child, so it is the level of parental participation in raising the child and usually, physical custody is calculated by the number of overnights that a child spends with the parent on an annual basis, and that number excludes vacations and holidays, so it is the number of overnights on a normal week that a child spends with their parents.

The physical custody and the parenting plan that the two parties decide is actually included in the child support calculation of the guidelines because the guidelines ask for the number of overnights that a child spends with the noncustodial parent. That is the parent that does not have the primary physical custody of the child.

Introduction to a Parenting Worksheet

A parenting worksheet can be impactful in factors influencing child support in New Jersey. It is a form of giving credit for time spent with the child or children through the use of a worksheet. If the shared parenting worksheet is used, it can benefit the noncustodial parent. The sole parenting worksheet assumes that the fixed costs for the child are not incurred by the noncustodial parent because they are spending so little time with them. Instead, the noncustodial parent will have a percentage their big normal income through the variable cost of food, transportation, and the minimal entertainment and that is for the sole parenting worksheet.

What is a Shared Parenting Worksheet?

A shared parenting worksheet assumes that the custodial parent or the parent of primary residence as it is called or PPR and the noncustodial parent, which is now referred to as the parent of alternate residence, both incur the fixed and variable expenses for the child when the child is with them, but it is in the discretion of the court to apply the shared parenting worksheet.

If the noncustodial parent or the parent of alternate residence is only spending 104 overnights a week but fails to show that there are separate living arrangements for the child provided specifically for that child, then they will not apply the shared parenting worksheet because the noncustodial parent or the parent of alternate residence has not shown that they are  expanding the cost to establish almost like a second domicile for the child. That is basically how custody arrangements influence child support.

How do Special Needs Influence Child Support?

It could go both ways for special needs, so if there is a mental or physical disability for the child that affects child support and if the child is exceptionally gifted, that does affect child support. If there is mental or physical disability, New Jersey law states that once a child reaches the age of 19, there does not need to be another court order.

The child is automatically emancipated, meaning that the noncustodial parent no longer has to pay child support. If the child has a mental or physical disability, the custodial parent or the child can make an application to the court saying that they want child support extended because that child still requires the support from the noncustodial parent.

Within the application to extend, the custodial parent or the child must include documentation of physical, intellectual, or developmental disability and its existence prior to the child's 19th birthday. The court also considers that some children will never go outside the sphere of parental influence and that they will require their parent take care of them as long as the parent can.

Understanding the Age Cutoff for Special Needs Support

Important factors influencing child support in New Jersey include the inability for it to be collected for the developmentally challenged child past their 23rd birthday. However, someone can convert that child support obligation to just another form of financial maintenance or support. It goes outside of the probation child support enforcement unit.

Technically after the 23rd birthday, it is no longer considered child support but rather financial maintenance. It is just a little different vernacular. In terms of whether a child has exceptional skills, that monetary amount to help that child succeed and be challenged further can be added to the child support award based on the court's decision.