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New Jersey courts want to ensure children in divorced families will have their needs met. To that end, courts spend a good deal of time deciding how much each parent should contribute to their child’s care after a divorce. Child support needs to be an ongoing duty for both parents. If you make more money than your ex, you may wonder if they’ll still have to pay child support. Contact a Sussex County divorce attorney today to learn more. We have years of experience working together with clients to get them the best results we can.

Will my ex pay child support even if I make more money than them?

Rule 5:6A of the New Jersey Rules of Court explains how courts calculate child support. The court’s calculation then becomes a rebuttable presumption. If a party can prove either that calculation is unfair or that it fails to provide for the child, the court may accept a modification.

To calculate the amount of child support, New Jersey courts first estimate the earning capacity of each parent. Calculations here would include almost every type of income (overtime, lottery winnings, unemployment benefits, and more) while excluding only a few kinds (such as welfare benefits or benefits for needy and disabled people).

Each parent’s income is then aggregated into the “family pot,” the amount of money to which the child would have access if the parents had never divorced. Parents are responsible for a proportional share of their income to the total family pot. For example, if both parents have the same income, child support will be split 50/50. In cases where one parent earns more than the other—a very common scenario—child support might be divided 60/40, 70/30, or in whichever ratio the court considers most appropriate. Should one parent be disabled or experiencing extreme financial hardship, the other may contribute much more to child support.

Using Standards of Well-Being to Calculate Child Support

New Jersey courts use three standards of well-being and marginal cost estimation to calculate the average cost of children in a family between expenses like housing, transportation, and food. Other costs like tuition may be included as supplemental expenses.

The three standards of well-being are the Engel standard, the Rothbarth standard, and the Micheal and Lazaer standard. These are used together with the Consumer Expenditure Survey, a survey of about 5,00 families released to the public every three years.

To determine how well-off a family is compared to other families, the Engel standard uses food expenditures, the Rothbarth standard uses how much parents spend on themselves, and the Michael and Lazaer standard uses how much parents spend on their own clothing.

Then, once courts deduct costs like taxes, they will compare what remains in the family pot to the recommendations in Rule 5:6A for a family with the same amount of children as the to-be-divorced couple. This is how child support amounts are determined.