Establishing each parent’s responsibilities for the continuing support of the children is one of the most important decisions of divorce, but it is certainly not a simple one. Every family has countless unique circumstances, from the parents’ capacity to pay to special needs of the children or even the parents. Yet, judges have few options other than to base their initial decisions largely on a fixed set of formulaic rules.
Those rules are essentially based on detailed presumptions about the typical costs of raising children and the financial status of each parent, but no Denville child support lawyer at our firm is likely to allow the original numbers to stand without certain necessary challenges. The initial calculations are called rebuttable presumptions because the courts expect both parties to debate them based on a wide range of details that apply specifically to each family.
The Difference Between Courtroom Presumptions and the Real World
The first presumption of NJ law is that both parents share responsibility for their children’s financial needs, and that before divorce, parents typically pool their resources, contributing to the needs of all household members proportionately based on income levels. As explained in New Jersey Rules of Court, this is known as the income shares approach, which forms the basis upon which child support guidelines are built. Then the calculations factor in a number of variables, such as (but not limited to) the following:
- The expenses related to children are separated from other family expenses based on economic theories and to arrive at a marginal cost of children.
- Any one of several possible standards of well-being can be applied, largely to help ensure that the children can maintain a similar lifestyle after the parents’ divorce.
- Consumer expenditure data is used from a representative sampling of households that comprise a variety of composition, size, locations and socioeconomic traits. The resulting data is essentially applied to arrive at a cost of children value.
While these points may sound confusing, they still do not accurately reflect the computations that go into a court’s child support calculations. Just as important, they seldom reflect the real world since they probably do not provide an accurate portrayal of most family situations. In fact, this is why the court’s recommendation bases are known as rebuttable presumptions.
How Divorcing Parents Can Retain More Control Over Child Support Decisions
By law, both parties of divorce can present arguments to rebut any factor that the courts include in their child support decisions. When judges hear compelling evidence, they have a great deal of latitude in altering the presumptions to arrive at child support arrangements that they consider to be fairer based on the new information they receive.
The experienced child support attorneys at Riordan Family Law assert that many divorcing parents can retain greater control over these decisions by taking a somewhat different approach. By negotiating child support terms in advance, both parties can present workable plans to judges before they arrive at terms that require rebuttal.
Of course, judges have the ultimate responsibility for accepting, rejecting or altering child support agreements. However, skilled attorneys can guide their clients toward agreements that are likely to meet judicial requirements. To learn how we can use mediation, arbitration or other alternate dispute resolution methods to negotiate the terms of child support, call us or use our convenient online contact form.