When undergoing a divorce, there are a host of financial issues that must be resolved before you can complete the divorce process. Primary among them are division of assets, alimony, and if applicable, child support. Divorcing parents often wonder if one of these outcomes will affect the others. In other words, are they connected? Which determination is made first? In terms of child support and alimony, there is a clear connection, with the procedural guidelines explicitly stated in the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. In this article, we will examine the connection between alimony and child support to help you determine how these issues may affect one another and influence the overall outcome of your New Jersey divorce.
New Jersey Child Support Guidelines
New Jersey’s process for determining child support is outlined in the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, a complex collection of provisions and formulas that are used to calculate appropriate child support payments. New Jersey Court Rule 5:6A and Appendix IX contains these guidelines and is built upon the idea that children should receive the same share of parental income that they would if their family unit remained intact. This is known as the Income Shares Model, which factors in the combined income of both parents, the number of children, the child custody and parenting time arrangement, and other relevant criteria.
Child Support and Alimony
The Child Support Guidelines includes a clear policy about the order in which child support and alimony payments should be determined during divorce. It states the following:
If child support and alimony, maintenance, or spousal support are being determined simultaneously (for the same family), the court shall determine the amount of alimony, maintenance, or spousal support before applying the child support guidelines, except when the court establishes pendente lite support. When applying the guidelines, the amount of alimony, maintenance or spousal support shall be deducted from the paying parent’s income (after adjusting for tax benefits, if known) and added to the recipient’s income to determine each parent’s gross income. This transfer method reflects the availability of income to each parent for the purpose of paying child support.
Essentially, this means that the court will determine alimony payments before determining child support. The logic behind this policy is that alimony payments will significantly modify the actual income of both parents. If you are making alimony payments, then your income is reduced. Conversely, if you are the alimony recipient, your income will increase. Since each parent has a specific income available after an adjustment for alimony, this amount will be used to determine how much they can contribute to the expenses associated with child rearing.
Child Support and Asset Division
The division of assets process can also affect child support calculations. In fact, it is included in a list of factors that may provide grounds for an adjustment of child support that differs from the amount determined through the standard formula. The equitable distribution of property, including which parent (if any) retains the marital residence, may impact the child support calculation. Further, fixed direct payments, such as those for a mortgage, may also be factored into child support. Of course, the property division arrangement will not only affect the living expenses imposed upon each parent, but will also have tax implications that may impact their total income.
For additional information, contact the Morris County law offices of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark today at 973-828-0829. One of our highly knowledgeable New Jersey family law attorneys will be happy to answer your questions with a cost-free consultation.
Learn more about Child Support in New Jersey by viewing the New Jersey Department of Human Services Child Support Handbook.