Somerville Office
Child Support

What Counts as Income in Determining Child Support in NJ?

Most parents probably assume that any salary they receive from work will count as income when determining how much child support should be paid. But they may be unaware of other sources that count as income as well as others that can be deducted.

Calculating child support in New Jersey is multifaceted with the end goal of appropriately caring for the child while remaining fair to the paying parent.

The Income Shares Model

Most states in the U.S. use one of three guideline models when determining child support: the income shares model, the percentage of income model, and the Melson formula.

Most states – including New Jersey – use the income shares model. This model looks at both parents’ incomes and is based on the concept that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income that he or she would have received if the parents lived together. The percentage of income model sets support as a percentage of the noncustodial parent’s income. The Melson formula is a more complicated version of the income shares model and is used by only three states.

New Jersey courts adhere to the child support guidelines unless other relevant factors make the guidelines inapplicable or if using the guidelines would result in an injustice.

Calculating Parental Incomes

The income shares model considers both parents’ incomes when making child support awards. If the custodial parent’s income represents 40% of the overall income, that person is responsible for 40% of the child’s support. The noncustodial parent is responsible for paying the custodial parent 60% of the total child support obligation. The total amount due from the paying parent is reduced in accordance with the number of overnight visits they have with their child in a year.

The court includes these and other financial sources as income:

  • Salary/wages
  • Self-employment income
  • Commissions
  • Bonuses
  • Overtime pay
  • Rental income
  • Profit-sharing plans
  • Pension/retirement income
  • Unemployment compensation benefits
  • Lottery winnings
  • Personal injury awards
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Alimony or separate maintenance (this or previous relationship)
  • Interest in a trust
  • Investment earnings
  • Social Security disability (excludes SSI benefits)

Child support received from a previous relationship and federal earned income tax credits do not count toward income.

Once the gross income is determined, specific expenses are deducted:

  • Spousal support or separate maintenance paid to a current or former spouse
  • Child support paid for children from a previous relationship
  • Mandatory union dues
  • Mandatory pension contributions
  • Taxes (federal, state, city income taxes, Social Security and Medicare withholding taxes)

Allowable deductions are taken from your gross income to determine your net income.

Costs of Raising a Child

The basic child support obligation covers the fundamental costs of raising a child. Food, shelter, clothing, health insurance, basic education expenses, extraordinary medical costs (if applicable), and visitation travel expenses are all factored into how much money is needed to appropriately meet the child’s needs. Additional expenditures can be covered when negotiated outside of court or successfully argued before a judge in a trial.

A judge automatically reviews a child support order every three years until child support is terminated.

Fight for Child Support Fair to You and Your Child

Whether you will receive or pay child support, Lane & Lane, LLC can frame compelling arguments to support what is fair for you and your child. New Jersey’s basic child support guidelines are a good starting point, but important expenses are often not automatically covered.

Our 60 years of combined experience have taught us how to effectively negotiate with opposing counsel. We also understand what the judge looks for when asked to make exceptions to the standard support amount.

Learn more about your child support rights by scheduling a consultation with our family law attorneys. Call (908) 259-6673 or contact us online to get started.