Child Support Basics – What Every Parent Should Know

This article was featured in the most recent issue of the Mercer County Woman. It was written by two attorneys with our firm- Patricia Agoes and Kimberly Pelkey Sdeo.

Maggie meets Mike on a dating website, they instantly connect and ten months after their first date, they welcome baby Maxwell. Maggie cannot bear to leave Maxwell, but returns to work part-time and sends Maxwell to day care. Shortly after, Mike breaks up with Maggie. Mike and Maggie reluctantly accept the relationship is over. Mike moves out and visits the baby every other weekend.Not wanting to deal with lawyers and the Courts, Mike agrees to pay one-half the day care costs, but doesn’t think he should pay child support. Mike works a mechanic making $1,200 a week gross.

Soon, Mike stops paying for one-half of Maxwell’s day care. Maggie returns to work full-time as a nurse earning $900.00 gross per week, but it’s hardly enough to keep up with the monthly day care bill of $1,000.

Mike and Maggie argue about money every time they see each other and it upsets Maxwell. Maggie runs into a friend and tells her how hard it is to be a single mom with no support. Maggie’s friend gives her the name of a local family law attorney to call. Her friend tells her that a consultation doesn’t cost too much and she deserves to know her rights and options.

Maggie schedules an appointment with the attorney, who sat with her for over an hour. Maggie learned that child support is based upon the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines approximate the costs to raise children based upon the income of each parent. The Guidelines include housing, clothing, food and activity costs. Even medical insurance premiums and child care can be included as additional child support.

A request must be made to the Court asking for support. Once support is established, the County Probation Department can collect directly from the parent’s paycheck. If payments stop, Probation can enforce child support in Court, take tax refunds and even suspend a driver’s license. Child support cannot be eliminated through bankruptcy. Regular income, side income and overtime are used to determine child support. Income can be imputed if a parent does not work. Job loss does not automatically decrease child support and an increase in income can be a basis for a recalculation of child support.

Maggie learns that the Guidelines calculate child support to be $260 per week, including day care. Maggie’s attorney files the request with the Court to establish the child support obligation. A week before the court date, everything gets resolved by exchanging financial information and using the Guidelines without ever stepping foot in the courthouse. Attorneys for Mike and Maggie prepare a written agreement and submit the Court Order to establish the child support obligation and create the Probation account to collect the child support.

By seeking legal advice, both Mike and Maggie know the Court has established a fair amount for Maxwell’s support.

Are you having trouble with child support matters? Do you need to establish child support? Contact us to schedule an appointment today to discuss your rights and options.

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