When one parent retains physical custody of a minor child following a divorce, the court may require the other parent to pay child support to help cover expenses for the child’s care, maintenance and education. In New Jersey, the court will usually use a Child Support Worksheet to calculate the proper child support obligation from one parent to the other. The worksheet allows the court to view all of the factors that affect the financial situations of both parents.
Some important factors for calculating child support payments are the child’s needs and liability as well as his or her assets, income and earning ability. Additionally, the child’s capacity for education, including higher education, is taken into account. The child’s age, parents’ ages and the health of all parties can also affect the amount and duration of child support that the court will order.
The parents’ standards of living and financial needs comprise the remainder of the calculations. This includes any current income and future earning potential for both the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent, along with any support payments that one parent pays to any other parties, such as child support to a parent of another minor child or spousal support payments from a previous marriage.
In many divorces involving minor children, the court includes child support orders in the case. The order can be changed in the future if the parties alert the court to new financial situations or if they wish to transfer physical custody of the child from the current custodial parent.