In representing clients in family law cases we are often asked, “Do we have to follow the New Jersey child support guidelines?” The short answer is yes, but there are exceptions. One such exception is if the child is over 18 years old and attending college or other post-secondary education. Since the New Jersey child support guidelines apply to the vast majority of child support applications is routine in common for the courts to calculate child support using the guidelines for all child support cases. In the unreported decision Clement vs Clement, the Appellate Division set aside the trial court's child support award because it was improperly based upon New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. The court held, We agree further that the trial court erred in applying the Child Support Guidelines to determine a new support obligation for plaintiff. Paragraph 18 of Considerations in the Use of Child Support Guidelines, states, in pertinent part: These child support guidelines are intended to apply to children who are less than 18 years of age or more than 18 years of age but still attending high school or a similar secondary educational institution. For the reasons set forth below, the Appendix IX-F support schedules shall not be used to determine . . . the amount of support for a child attending college. The child support guidelines may be applied in the court's discretion to support for students over 18 years of age who commute to college. Pursuant to the New Jersey's Child Support Statute N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(a) the trial court should have based it's award of child support on the following factors: (2) Standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent; (3) All sources of income and assets of each parent; (4) Earning ability of each parent . . .; . . . . (8) Responsibility of the parents for the court-ordered support of others; (9) Reasonable debts and liabilities of each child and parent; and (10) Any other factors the court may deem relevant. This case was ultimately sent back to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with the decision of the Appellate Court. While in cases the use the New Jersey child support guidelines the amount of the child support obligation is usually very predictable in this case the amount of the child support obligation is less than clear. The Clement case is an example of a situation where the child support guidelines do not apply. If you have questions involving the calculation of a child support obligation contact the South Jersey child support attorneys at DeMichele and DeMichele. Please call 856-546-1350 to schedule your confidential consultation with an experienced child support and family law attorney.