Child-Support Guideline Changes Would Reflect Economic Realities

, New Jersey Law Journal

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The state Supreme Court's Family Practice Committee is recommending rule revisions that would allow child-support determinations to be based on a broader and more accurate picture of family spending.

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What's being said

  • Jeff Golden, Fathers' and Children's Equality (FACE)

    Its about time that the child support guidelines were modified to recognize twenty-first century economics and to reflect the real cost of raising children in the twenty-first century. But there are a few more things needed.

    First is accountability. When the federal government supports a child through Social Security benefits, the parent is required to periodically account for how that money was used for the child. When a child is supported by TANF or DCP&P benefits, a case worker checks on the child and makes sure the money is being used for the child. But, there is no accountability for child support. The recipient could be using it for the child, or she could be using it to buy alcohol, cigarettes, recreational pharmaceuticals, gold chains for her boyfriend, or clothing and jewelry for herself. There is no way of knowing, and even if the payer does know, no one will do anything about it.

    Second, the “promiscuity bonus” must be eliminated. If a woman has three children with three different fathers, and if all the fathers have about the same income, she will receive twice as much child support as if all the children had the same father. That’s because the Child Support Guidelines treat them as three one-child families instead of as one family with three children. To eliminate this windfall, baby-daddy number two should only be responsible for the incremental support for the second child, and baby-daddy number three should only be responsible for the third child.

  • Marc J. Rogoff, Esq.

    Lawyers know that the typical child support award includes a multitude of items included within the spending assumptions that defy reality and now we are going to lower support? $233 per week for one child, $257 for two. We only provide an additional $24/wk for the second child. If you have children, you know that a second child increases costs substantially more than 11%. Just exactly how are we going to capture what happened a decade ago and how relevant is that look back to current income? I think the committee needs to revise the spending assumptions to reflect that these items are not captured in the support award.

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