Each child is entitled to support if their parents are separated.

In a court of law, the wellbeing of children is put before anything else, especially during a divorce. All parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children, as child support is a guaranteed right. That said, figuring out child support can be far from easy. How is it calculated? Who pays it? And for how long? At Keith Family Law, we can help you answer these questions and more.

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Child Custody

We All Want What Is Best For Our Children.

What Types Of Child Custody Are There?

There are two kinds of child custody: physical custody and legal custody.

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Physical custody is where the child will primarily reside and with which parent, whereas legal custody, is the legal right for a parent to make decisions for the child, including all medical, religious, and education decisions. The custody of the child can play a huge factor when determining child support arrangements.

Keith Family Law is a full-service family law practice in Westfield, New Jersey that serves clients from Union County, Essex County, Hudson County, Morris County, Hunterdon County, Somerset County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, and Warren County.

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What Are Some Common Child Custody Arrangements?

There are a number of different forms of child custody that the court can order. When determining child custody, the courts will always look at what is in the child’s best interests.

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Sole Custody is when one parent is given full physical and legal custody of a child. The child lives with the custodial parent and all major decisions are made by that parent. The child may spend time with the other parent, as a parenting schedule dictates.

Joint Legal Custody is where both parents share the right to make decisions on their child’s behalf. One parent may still have physical custody of the child, but major decisions must be made together.

Shared Legal and Physical Custody is where both parents share the right to make decisions on their child’s behalf, and where the child will spend equal time with both parents, as dictated by a parenting plan. Common parenting plans could include 3 days with one parent, then 4 days with the next (3/4), or a 3/3/1 based schedule.

When parents cannot agree to a custody arrangement, the court will examine all factors, including employment and who is the child’s primary caregiver, to determine the ideal custody arrangement based on the child’s best interests. In these cases, a parenting plan must be put into place. This is a schedule that divides the child’s time between the two parents.

Keith Family Law is a full-service family law practice in Westfield, New Jersey that serves clients from Union County, Essex County, Hudson County, Morris County, Hunterdon County, Somerset County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, and Warren County.

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Can Child Custody Plans Change Over Time?

Lives change and so can custody arrangements and parenting plans. That said, changes to a custody plan should not be made lightly. Although child custody arrangements should be periodically revisited to address new issues that may arise, this does not necessarily mean any changes will be successful. For example, what if a parent gets a job in another state? As they get older, the needs and wishes of a child may change, which can also impact custody arrangements.

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Another way that child custody arrangements can change is if negative factors are discovered that could impact the child’s wellbeing. This could be anything from alcohol and dependency issues to domestic violence and abuse. If you feel that your child is unsafe in the other parent’s care, you should approach the court with evidence of this immediately.

Although you can reach an agreement in principle to change a custody arrangement with another parent, this will not be legally enforceable unless there is a court order in place. In these cases, it can be best to hire a family law attorney to represent you and your interests.

In an ideal world, both parents would be able to work with each other to create a co-parenting plan and minimize the impact of the divorce on the child’s life. Collaborative law can be useful for this kind of negotiation. However, sometimes a mutual agreement is not always possible.

Child custody issues are extremely sensitive and nuanced. If you have questions regarding your specific child custody case, or any other areas of divorce and family law, please feel free to call us for a consult. We will provide you with individualized legal counsel with one of our family lawyers. Ideally, you may find a reasonable way to resolve your child support issues that may not involve the courts at all. This could include negotiation, mediation, or the Collaborative Law process. A collaboratively trained attorney can help you work together through collaborative practice to find parenting solutions that will result in the best possible child custody arrangement for your children.

Keith Family Law is a full-service family law practice in Westfield, New Jersey that serves clients from Union County, Essex County, Hudson County, Morris County, Hunterdon County, Somerset County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, and Warren County.

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How is Child Support Calculated?

In New Jersey, child support is determined by the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines.

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This is based on income of both parents, alimony, child custody agreements, the number of overnights in the parenting plan, the number and age of children, the cost of the children’s share of health insurance, and other factors. The amount of child support ordered is non-negotiable unless there is a reason to deviate from the guidelines, which a court may do under extraordinary circumstances, although this is rare.

Although entertainment expenses are included in the child support calculation, there may be extracurricular expenses that are not. These must be separately negotiated between parents and then be incorporated into the child support agreement.

Child support levels can be modified if the circumstances they were originally calculated change. If either parent loses their job, an adjustment could be made based on their current income, earning history, education, disabilities, and efforts to find a new job. If care costs increase due to health concerns or disabilities, an adjustment to child support levels would be appropriate. These changes to child support are also calculated by the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines.

Keith Family Law is a full-service family law practice in Westfield, New Jersey that serves clients from Union County, Essex County, Hudson County, Morris County, Hunterdon County, Somerset County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, and Warren County.

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When Does Child Support Stop?

In New Jersey, child support continues until emancipation, which is presumed to occur at age 18, but this is fairly easily overcome.

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For example, children are not considered emancipated in New Jersey if they attend college full-time or are dependent on a parent due to illness or disability. Child support does cease at age 23, regardless of circumstances.

Keith Family Law is a full-service family law practice in Westfield, New Jersey that serves clients from Union County, Essex County, Hudson County, Morris County, Hunterdon County, Somerset County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, and Warren County.

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What Can I Do If Child Support Payments Are Not Being Made?

As child support is the right of a child, it is legally required to be paid on a regular basis.

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There are a number of enforcement options available to remedy non-payments, including going to court to file an enforcement application. We would be happy to assist you in any way we can to make sure your child receives their payment.

One of the most popular methods of guaranteeing child support is wage garnishment. The employer of the parent paying the support is legally required to deduct child support from their pay. If this is not an option, that parent can be brought before the court where a number of remedies can be taken, including anything from the suspension of their driver’s license, to revocation of their passport, to incarceration.

Child support issues can be varied and complex, depending on the size and structure of the family. If you have questions regarding your specific child support issue, or any other areas involving divorce and family law, please feel free to call us for a consult. We will provide you with individualized legal counsel with one of our family lawyers. Ideally, you may find a reasonable way to resolve your child support issues privately through negotiation, mediation, or the Collaborative Law process. A collaboratively trained attorney can help you work together through collaborative practice to find solutions that will help your children adapt during this difficult time of change.

Keith Family Law is a full-service family law practice in Westfield, New Jersey that serves clients from Union County, Essex County, Hudson County, Morris County, Hunterdon County, Somerset County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, and Warren County.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

Testimonials

“I’ll put it simply – I could go on and on about how great she was
and how important the efforts and professionalism of a divorce attorney are, but truthfully,
I couldn’t have had a better person working for me.”

Michael

"I felt that my Keith Family Law ALWAYS HAD MY BACK!!!"

Annette Beshar

“Not only did Ms. Keith help me resolve my case (in my favor) but she also helped me understand what I needed to do for myself and for my child to keep our lives moving forward in a positive direction. I would highly recommend Ms. Keith to anyone!”

Kat

"Heather is the absolute best. She helped me navigate a very painful divorce process with professionalism and patience."

Elizabeth Graner