Legal Guide

The Basics of Divorce Law – Child Support

According to Meislik & Levavy, the underlying principle behind child support is that “children of divorced parents have a right to be supported in accordance with the standard of living they had during their parent’s marriage. The amount is based upon what an intact family with a certain level of income would spend for their child.”

How do courts determine how much you pay in child support? Each state has its own guidelines that courts must follow when determining child support payments. Your family law attorney should be knowledgeable about those guidelines, which will allow them to provide you with a preliminary calculation. However, these are merely “guidelines” and not “rules.”

How long do you have to pay child support? In most cases, child support payments stop when the child graduates from high school or completes four years of college. However, depending on the situation and where your divorce takes place, these timelines may differ. Some states require you to continue paying child support until the “child” is 21- years old. Other factors might include whether the child is still living with the other parent, has been married, entered the armed forces or passed away. After a certain age, your child may have the option to be emancipated, in which case you would no longer be required to pay child support. However, regardless of how often you and your child see each other (even if not at all), you are still required to pay child support until one of these other factors have affected the arrangement.

Where can you find child support laws in your state? The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for federal programs that promote the economic and social well-being of families and children. You can find their agencies listed by state here. New Jersey parents can contact Family Lawyers, Meislik & Levavy or check the child support guidelines at the NJ government resource, here.

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