Deviating from the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines

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There was a time in the not-too- distant past that child support orders varied widely from one state to another. Even cases decided by the same court involving similar facts could result in child support orders that were extremely dissimilar. This state of affairs existed until states began adopting and implementing “Child Support Guidelines” in an effort to reduce the disparity between child support orders entered in similar cases. New Jersey has adopted its own Child Support Guidelines that apply in all New Jersey divorce and paternity cases.

When the Guidelines Apply – And When They Do Not

Calculating child support in New Jersey involves taking into considerations such as the parents’ income (separate and combined) as well as the amount of time that each parent spends with the child. There is a presumption in family law cases that any amount of child support determined in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines is the correct and appropriate amount of child support to order.

There are some situations, however, in with the Child Support Guidelines will not apply:

  • Where the child(ren) are over 18 years of age and attending college outside the home;
  • Where the parent(s) make a combined net income that exceeds the Child Support Guidelines threshold amount;
  • Where there are more than six children in the home; and/or
  • Where the court finds “good cause” to deviate from the Guidelines.

What Constitutes “Good Cause?”

Whereas three of the four aforementioned exceptions to the Guidelines apply in clear and uncontroverted circumstances, the fourth exception – for “good cause” – is more ambiguous and allows a court to consider the circumstances of the family in deciding whether the presumed child support amount is appropriate. If the court feels the amount is not appropriate and wishes to deviate from the amount, the court must make specific findings as to why the presumed amount is not appropriate.

What constitutes “good cause” to deviate from the Guidelines? One common example is where the child has serious medical or other needs and concerns that the custodial parent would otherwise have to bear him- or herself.

Speak with the experienced New Jersey child support attorneys at Giro Attorneys at Law, LLC. We can help you understand the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines and how they might apply to your case. If there are reasons to deviate from the Guidelines in your situation, we can help you successfully petition the court for the appropriate deviation. Call our firm today at (201) 255-4417.

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