Be Careful What You Ask For
I saw a Facebook post the other day that went something like this:
Dad was paying mom $500.00 per month in child support. This was an amount they agreed on and was not calculated using the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. The parties had actually never been to Court before.
That went on for a while and eventually, mom’s friends / family convinced her that she was entitled to more child support. So mom filed a motion to recalculate child support. They went to Court and the Child Support Guidelines were run.
The new child support…WENT DOWN! BY MORE THAN HALF!
It amounted to $238.00 per month. So that’s what Dad began paying. Then, mom got upset and started bad mouthing him on Facebook calling him a “deadbeat” because he refused to keep the higher amount of support.
I see this happen a lot. The parties reach an agreement on a child support amount they both think is fair or are at least both willing to agree to.
Then little birdies get into one of their ears and they start thinking they’re paying too much or receiving too little. So without any idea of the amount they may legally be entitled to receive or required to pay, they file a motion asking the Court to increase or decrease the child support.
Then they get to Court and find out they were receiving or paying more than they should have. And now here comes the anger and name-calling starts.
In New Jersey, if you file a Motion to calculate (or re-calculate) child support because you are looking for an increase, that does not mean the Court will only enter an Order if the child support would actually increase.
Of course, the same is true if you file a motion seeking a decrease. So when you ask the Court to calculate or re-calculate child support, you are taking a chance that the amount could increase or decrease. Once the Court runs the Guidelines, that amount is what the other parent is legally responsible to pay and unless that parent agrees to pay more, that is the amount you will be stuck with.
I’ve seen this many times. A person files a motion to re-calculate child support because they are looking for an increase. And the amount actually decreases. Then the person who filed the motion says “it’s going down, oh, nevermind, I’ll withdraw my motion.” The Court won’t do it because it’s too late at that point.
What could you do to be better prepared?
New Jersey has an online version of a child support calculator and you can run your own child support calculation. Now, understand a few things about that calculator.
First, it’s not going to be exactly the same as the calculation done at Court. If ran correctly, it will be close but not exactly the same.
Second, one reason for the possible difference in amounts is because it is a limited version of the guidelines.
It does not allow you to calculate all of the child support credits you are entitled to, such as credit for the child’s share of health insurance expenses, your other dependent deduction (this applies if you have other biological children that live with you) or alimony you are paying or receiving (whether on this case or a different case).
So that calculator can give you an idea but it may not be accurate if some of the other credits may apply to you. You can run your own calculation here.
Third, if you do not know the other person’s income, your calculation will not be accurate. But you can run an unlimited number of calculations using different incomes for the other party to see a range of what your child support may be.
What else could you do to be better prepared?
Don’t chance it or just hope for the best. Contact me to schedule a consultation. I can run the guidelines for you using my software, which unlike the online calculator, allows me to include all of the credits you may be entitled to.
P.S. If you schedule by the end of April, get $50 off! Just use the code 50OFF.
Hope to talk to you soon!