Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.

When child support awards can be modified

For people who have been through a messy divorce involving children, child support can be a complicated issue. While many people believe that the amount of child support is often set in stone, a recent case here in New Jersey shows that this amount might not necessarily be so fixed. Last month, a family law judge ruled that the divorced parents of a gifted child could be required to pay additional funds in child support to develop the talents of their child. 

When courts typically calculate child support payments, this amount is used to cover the basic costs of childcare. This includes food, clothing, expenses related to education and perhaps some extra-curricular activities. However, this amount should also reflect costs related to any special needs that the child may have (which can include being gifted and talented).

In this specific case, the girl wanted to pursue an acting career. This can be expensive for families trying to break into the industry. There are significant expenses associated with traveling to auditions, purchasing certain outfits and make-up, hiring coaches, and even hiring an agent. The mother initially asked the father to pay for half of these costs. He refused, claiming that the $113 per week he currently pays should be enough.

New Jersey child support guidelines state that child support payments should be appropriate to cover the basic costs of raising a child. However, the law also leaves some room for additional financial support to be ordered in the event that the child has special talents that deserve to be developed.

Ultimately, most child support cases involve a formulaic calculation. However, as this case shows, certain deviations are sometimes warranted. If you are facing a child support or custody issue that may require court intervention, please contact an experienced family law attorney.

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