Child support is generally calculated according to the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines (“The Guidelines”) using software that takes into consideration both parents’ combined income. Where the parents’ combined net income, however, exceeds that which is subsumed within the Guidelines, additional child support may be appropriate by examining certain statutory factors.
But what expenses are actually covered by child support? This is important to know for both the parent receiving child support and also the parent paying child support.
According to the Guidelines, child support payments cover the child’s share of expenses for housing, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment, unreimbursed health care up to and including $250 per child per year, and miscellaneous items.
Specifically, the Guidelines breaks up child support payments into individual categories, and unless the parents agree otherwise, the following items within each category below are generally covered by child support payments:
Housing expenses covered by child support payments include:
Mortgage and interest payments or home-equity loans, property taxes, insurance, refinancing charges, repairs, maintenance, rent, parking fees, property management or security fees, expenses for vacation homes, lodging while out of town, utilities, fuels, public services, domestic services, lawn care, gardening, pest control, laundry and dry cleaning (nonclothing) and related supplies, moving and storage, home repairs purchase or rental of household equipment of tools, postage, cleaning and toilet tissues, household and lawn products, stationary, indoor and outdoor furniture, floor coverings, small appliances and housewares (except personal care appliances), household textiles and miscellaneous household equipment (e.g., clocks, luggage, light fixtures, computers and software, decorating items, etc.).
Food expenses covered by child support payments include: Food and non-alcoholic beverages purchased for home consumption or purchased away from home (including vending machines, restaurants, tips, school meals, and catered affairs).
Clothing expenses covered by child support payments include:
All children’s clothing (including school uniforms), footwear (except special footwear for sports), diapers, repairs or alterations to clothing and footwear, storage, dry cleaning, laundry, watches, and jewelry.
Therefore, expenses for such sports-related footwear as soccer cleats or dance shoes, for instance, should generally be shared by both parents according to their respective percentages of combined parental income (which is calculated by the Guidelines) or as otherwise agreed.
Transportation expenses covered by child support payments include:
Such costs incurred by the primary custodial parent for the child (transportation costs associated with the child’s use of an automobile are not covered by child support payments) and include: All costs associated with owning or leasing an automobile, gas and motor oil, insurance, maintenance, and repairs. Additional transportation costs incurred by the primary custodial parent include public transit, parking fees, license and registration fees, towing, tolls, and automobile service clubs.
Unreimbursed Health Care expenses covered by child support payments include:
Medical, dental, vision, and related expenses that are not reimbursed by insurance up to and including $250 per child per year. These include for instance, non-prescription drugs, co-payments. Therefore, generally, unless the parents agree otherwise, the primary custodial parent pays for the first $250 per child per year with the child support received and any expenses above and beyond that are generally shared between the parents according to their respective percentages of combined parental income.
Entertainment expenses covered by child support payments include:
Fees, memberships, and admissions to sports, recreational, or social events, lessons or instructions, movie rentals, televisions, mobile devices, sound equipment, pets, hobbies, toys, playground equipment, photographic equipment, film processing, video games, and recreational, exercise or sports equipment.
Therefore, unless otherwise agreed by the parents, child support payments generally cover registration and associated fees for recreational and/or town sports and required equipment, except for footwear as noted above.
Miscellaneous Items covered by child support payments include:
Personal-care products and services (e.g., hair, shaving, cosmetics), books and magazines, school supplies, cash contributions, personal insurance, and finance charges (except those for mortgage and vehicle purchases).
As an alternative to the Guidelines above, the spouses are certainly free to decide to agree on the amount of child support and what items are covered by child support payments.