Your New Jersey Teen Child May Be Entitled to Extra Child Support; Here's How to Tell
Calculating child support in New Jersey is contingent upon the state's Child Support Guidelines, a complicated matrix that statisticians, economists and judicial experts believe produces a child support award commensurate with the custodial parent's actual expenses for the child(ren). We regularly analyze the myriad of different factors that can affect your child support obligation or award here at the DeMichele & DeMichele legal blog. Appendix IX-A Section 17 provides as follows: “The child support schedules are based on child-rearing expenditures averaged across the entire age range of zero through 17 years (total expenditures divided by 18 years). This averaging means that awards for younger children are slightly overstated due to the higher level of expenditures for older children. If an award is entered while the child is very young and continues through age 18, the net effect is negligible. However, initial awards for children in their teens are underestimated by the averaging and should be adjusted upward to compensate for this effect. Due to limitations of the CEX and the Rothbarth estimator, a separate marginal cost for teen-aged children could not be estimated. Based on Dr. Thomas Espenshade's 1980 CEX study, the cost of children aged 12 through 17 was 14.6% above the average expenditures. Therefore, if the initial child support order is entered when a child is 12 years of age or older, that order and all subsequent orders shall be adjusted upward by 14.6%. Whenever the 14.6% adjustment is made, it should be noted in the guidelines worksheet or in the support order. This will clarify the basis of the order for future modifications or appeals.” [Emphasis Added.] Okay, great; so what does all of that mean, Matt? Well, in layman's terms, since teenagers are typically more expensive than younger children (you don't have to be a lawyer or financial guru to know that), the Court allows for an initial bump in the child support award to account for it. However, please don't forget that this rule applies only “if the initial child support order is entered when a child is 12 years of age or older.” It's very important for the parent standing to receive support to raise this issue with their attorney and/or the Court in order to make sure that they receive every dime of support to which he or she is entitled for the care and maintenance of their kids. The Section 17 adjustment can make a big difference. Let's look at a hypothetical family where there are two twin 13-year old sons and Mom is their parent of primary residence. Dad exercises 52 overnights annually and both parents gross roughly $50,000 per year at their respective places of employment. If this is the first child support order, the upward adjustment would entitle Mom to an extra $163.40 from Dad on a monthly basis. That's obviously not chump change for the average middle class family in 2013. Of course, the entire analysis may change when college enters the picture, but first thing's first… Know your rights, get the facts, and find the help that you need to do what's best for your family. Compassionate, experienced and zealous representation is only an email or phone call away. If you or someone you know has questions about child support in New Jersey, contact the family law attorneys at DeMichele & DeMichele online today. Your confidential initial consultation can also be scheduled by calling our family law attorneys: (856) 546-1350.