The Child Support Calculator: How It Works

Divorce and custody battles can be complicated, emotionally and mentally exhausting and very expensive financially – especially when both parents want to be the primary parent for the child(ren).

When there is a divorce and you hire a lawyer, you generally know what it will cost to take the case out to completion. But when it comes to children, sometimes it is hard to anticipate how much child support will impact your financial life – and that is often one thing that we all want to know ahead of time so we can plan our budget in order to accommodate.

Often, however, child support can seem to be arbitrary from a judge – it could be more or less than your attorney may advise. Fortunately, if you live in New Jersey, you can at least use an online calculator to at least get a ballpark figure of what your child support award or order will be.
A judge’s discretion will change the final number, but you can plug into the calculator several factors that can have a numerical value to them to help create the framework for the custody award.

The factors that would be plugged into the calculator include:

  • Who is the custodial parent and who is the non-custodial parent?
  • Will there be shared parenting? In other words, will the non-custodial parent be with the child for at least 104 overnights in a year? A yes or no answer will impact the number potentially significantly.
  • What is the gross income of both parents?
  • What are the actual or anticipated expenses of the parents (i.e. who stays in the house and pays the bills, and who gets a different place and pays different bills)?

The online child-support calculator is, again, just a guideline and rough estimate based on court precedent and general factorial considerations the courts usually determine. The actual amount will likely differ, but plugging in the information as completely and accurately as possible will help you at least get a read of what to expect when the case is resolved.

There is no doubt that child support is not just about the money, but it is more about responsibility. Checking out a child-support calculator can be a responsible step you can take with your finances to ensure that your child, the most important remaining asset of your dissolved marriage, s still as cared for as would be needed or expected. Your child’s life need not to be disrupted, and neither parent should feel a financial hardship in providing for the child.

It is about fairness and preparation – two virtues that we all should impart on our children as they grow up, and are a sign of adults in the room who are watching out for the children.