Generally, divorced parents have a legal obligation under New Jersey Law to support their children until the children are emancipated. You can find out when a child is considered emancipated by reading my blog here.
Unless both parents agree how the expenses for the children will be shared, the amount of child support for children under the age of 18 is generally determined by the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines.
The calculation of child support under these Guidelines is done using specialized software that is accessed by attorneys and courts. The software will also calculate each parent’s percentage share of the combined parental income.
This is important, because if the parents are unable to agree otherwise, their respective shares of income would likely be used to calculate each parent’s percentage contribution to expenses that are not covered by child support.
Unless agreed upon otherwise by both parents, the following expenses maintained by the primary custodial parent are generally covered by child support payments:
- Housing Expenses
These 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
These 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).
These include the costs of 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.
4. Transportation expenses which include the following incurred by the primary custodial parent for the child, not those that are associated withthe child’s use of an automobile:
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.
- 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
These include fees, memberships and admissions to sports, recreational, or social events, lessons or instructions, movie rentals, televisions, radios, sound equipment, pets, hobbies, toys, playground equipment, photographic equipment, film processing, video games and recreational, exercise or sports equipment.
Therefore, these would include registration fees and equipment costs and/or fees associated with recreational sports and activities, dues and registration fees, costs and expenses for school supplies, fundraising, class trips, instrument rentals, school-related supplies and expenses, etc.
Unless otherwise agreed by the parents, therefore, child support payments generally cover registration and associated fees for recreational and/or town sports and required equipment, with the exception of footwear as noted above.
7. Miscellaneous items
These include personal care products and services, books and magazines, education, cash contributions, personal insurance and finance charges (except those for mortgage and vehicle purchases).
Regardless of the above, the more that parents can agree upon between themselves as to how they will support their children, the more flexibility and control they both have to make decisions that are in their children’s best interests.