Child Support 101: How to Calculate the Obligation

If you and your former partner share a child together, one of you will undoubtedly have to pay child support to the other. The State of New Jersey considers child support the right of the child, which means that the parents cannot agree to waive the obligation. Both parents’ incomes will be considered when making the calculation and the non-custodial parent will be required to pay child support to the custodial parent.

Child support is calculated using a formula known as the Child Support Guidelines. Each parent must provide proof of their gross incomes by providing their most recent income tax returns, their W-2’s, and their three most recent pay stubs.  If one parent is not employed, the court will likely impute an income to that parent. Gross income includes, but is not limited to, wages and earnings, bonuses, tips, Social Security income, gains from a business, and unemployment benefits.

Once each parent’s income is determined, the Guidelines then take numerous other factors into consideration, including:

  • Which parent has physical custody of the child;
  • The percentage of overnight time the child spends with each parent;
  • The child’s needs;
  • The child’s age and health;
  • The child’s education and cost of same;
  • Any deductions from either parent’s income, including contributions towards the child’s healthcare costs and any work-related daycare expenses.

The amount of time the child spends with both parents is a factor in many custody cases. If the child spends between 28 and 50 percent of their nights with the non-custodial parent, the court will use the Shared Parenting Worksheet to calculate support.

Child support is intended to be used for the benefit of the child for that child’s basic expenses. Any additional expenses, such as those incurred for extracurricular activities or unreimbursed medical costs, are generally calculated in order to the basic child support amount.

If you have questions about calculating your child support obligation or believe it was calculated incorrectly, we can help guide you through the Guidelines to figure out what is owed. Please feel free to reach out to us at or (201) 701-1218 if you have questions regarding your specific child support case.