Child support is a court-ordered payment made by the non-custodial parent to help with the expenses of raising the child. It helps to assure that both parents retain responsibility for their children and that children do not suffer financially from the divorce of their parents.
Laws regulating child support payments vary from state to state; New Jersey has some of the strictest child support laws in the country.
In calculating the amount of child support payments, several factors are taken into consideration, including the fair income of each parent. This includes all wages, overtime, unemployment benefits and even lottery winnings. Also considered are the taxes and deductions taken from these wages. Only mandatory deductions, such as income taxes are counted; however, voluntary deductions are not. (1)
If both parents’ earnings are equal, child support responsibility is usually split 50/50. That ratio changes if one parent makes significantly more than the other. Once all income and deductions are calculated, the court issues a final support order. Unfortunately, there are many times when these orders are ignored. (1)
New Jersey law allows wages of the non-custodial parent to be garnished for the payment of child support. It also allows for the suspension of driver’s and professional licenses if the child support payments are in arrears. (2) The State has an annual 63.5% child support collection rate, compared with a 62% national rate. One tactic that makes it more difficult to collect child support payments is when the non-custodial parent moves out of state. It is estimated that this affects at least one-third of New Jersey child support cases. (3)
A new bipartisan bill was introduced recently that would help custodial parents collect support payments even when the non-custodial parent is living in another state. This new law, sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), would establish consistent rules for enforcing child support orders across state borders and accelerate those payments to children living in other states. (3)
Under the pending legislation, states would be required to take part in a lien registry. This would ensure that all income, including insurance and legal settlements and lottery winnings is taken into consideration to meet child support obligations. (3)