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Child Support Attorney in Somerset County, New Jersey

Spending quality time with your children and providing for them a safe and stable home life are vital roles for a parent. Everyone wants what’s best for their child—but even under the most ideal circumstances, doing this takes continuous effort and dedication. When two parents divorce or separate, their obligations to their children remain and they now must forge new paths and routines. Two of the biggest decisions they’re tasked with making concern child custody and child support. No one is ever quite prepared for this emotional and complex process, which is why it’s so important to reach out to a family law attorney. 
If you’d like to learn more about establishing a child support arrangement and are in the Somerset County area or anywhere throughout Basking Ridge, Warren, Somerville, and Bedminster, reach out to me at Gary Blaustein, Esq. I’m proud to serve individuals and families throughout the entire state of New Jersey. 

Understanding Child Support in New Jersey 

When two people build a life together and decide to start a family, they’re usually counting on always having two people contributing to the household. However, when a separation or divorce occurs, they must now figure out a way to separate their lives and finances and create two separate households to raise their child. Naturally, the costs to do this will be higher and there is often one parent who ends up needing financial support from the other to maintain their standard of living and provide for the child. 

There are typically two ways that a couple can decide the amount of money (if any) that needs to exchange hands—either between themselves or by turning to the courts.   

  • Without court intervention: If you’re still on relatively good speaking terms with your co-parent and you’re both committed to finding solutions, you may be able to agree on an amount that works for both of you. The New Jersey Department of Human Services provides a free, online calculator (called QuickCalc) that can be a great starting point for determining a fair amount. 

  • With court intervention: If you can’t come to an agreement on your own, you will have to take your case to a judge. Both QuickCalc and a judge will start by using a process called the Income Shares Method which essentially calculates the combined amount that both parents earn in income, then dividing the financial responsibility based on the percentage each parent earns. For example, if parent A earns $40,000 a year and parent B earns $60,000 (for a total of $100,000), parent A will be responsible for 40% of child support. Additionally, judges will also look at the following factors which will contribute to their final determination:  

    • The custody arrangement  

    • The educational, emotional, and physical needs of the child 

    • Whether there are other children or family members a parent is legally obligated to support 

    • Whether any alimony will be paid 

    • The children’s ages  

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Imputed Income 

In cases where one parent intentionally remains underemployed or unemployed to artificially lower their income, a judge can impose something called “imputed income.” This means an income will be assigned to the non-working parent in an amount that’s appropriate to their skill set or past employment and they will then be responsible for paying support based on this amount. 

Modifying an Existing Arrangement  

At some point, it’s likely you’ll need to request a child support modification from the courts. There are generally three ways this can happen: 

  • Change in circumstances: Typically, when one party requests a change in support payments, they must show there’s been a “substantial change in circumstances.” For example, gaining or losing a job, incarceration, or a change in health care needs could constitute a “substantial change in circumstances.” 

  • Cost-of-living adjustment: Per state law, all support arrangements will be automatically revised every two years to account for cost-of-living adjustments (COLA). The courts will send out a notice of the new amounts which you can then contest if needed. 

  • Agency review: A parent can request an agency review every three years without needing to show a substantial change in circumstances. If the review finds that an adjustment of at least 20% is needed, they will recommend a modification.  

No matter what path you decide to take, reach out to a skilled family law attorney at any stage of the process to ensure your rights are being protected.  

Termination of Child Support 

Termination of child support will happen automatically when the child turns 19, gets married, or enlists in the military. If you believe child support should be terminated before this time, you must submit a formal request with the courts—but these are typically only granted under “exceptional circumstances.” Importantly, even if termination is granted, you will still be responsible for paying any past-due amounts. 

Child Support Attorney in Somerset County, New Jersey

If you’re currently separating from a spouse or co-parent and need help establishing a child support plan or modifying a current plan, get in touch with me in Somerset County. My firm— Gary Blaustein, Esq.—is ready to help you and your family move forward with confidence.