What expenses does child support cover?
Child support is generally paid by the Parent of Alternate Residence (PAR) to the Parent of Primary Residence (PPR). How much is paid depends on a few factors and a calculation is usually completed using the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines (this is a topic for another day!). It's important to understand what child support is meant to "cover" though. Many think child support should only be used towards food and clothing for the child, but this simply isn't logical or fair. Clearly the PPR also needs to afford housing and utilities, among other things for the child.
Appendix IX-A to the New Jersey Rules of Court outlines many details with regards to child support, including what the reasoning is behind the calculations. It also outlines what expenses are included in child support. At the end of this post, I have provided the language for that appendix which indicates everything child support is meant to cover. Of course, families can agree to go outside of this and agree on other payments or items that aren't included in child support. A common example is sport and activity fees, which can become very expensive - parents can agree that child support simply is not enough to cover these and instead come up with a solution to split those expenses. A complete copy of Appendix 9A can be found HERE on the NJ Courts Website.
Housing -Mortgage principal and interest payments or home equity loans, property taxes, insurance, refinancing charges, repairs, maintenance, rent, parking fees, property management or security fees, expenses for vacation homes, lodging while out of town, utilities, fuels, public services, domestic services, lawn care, gardening, pest control, laundry and dry cleaning (non-clothing), moving and storage, repairs on home, furniture, major appliances, purchase or rental of household equipment of tools, postage, laundry or cleaning supplies, cleaning and toilet tissues, household and lawn products, stationary, all indoor and outdoor furniture, floor coverings, all small appliances and housewares (except personal care appliances), all household textiles (e.g., linens, drapes, slipcovers, sewing materials, etc.), and miscellaneous household equipment (e.g., clocks, luggage, light fixtures, computers and software, decorating items, etc.). The net purchase price of a home is not included as expenditures in this category.
Food -All food and non-alcoholic beverages purchased for home consumption or purchased away from home (including vending machines, restaurants, tips, school meals and catered affairs). Non-food items (e.g., tissue papers, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes) are not included.
Clothing -All children's clothing (including school uniforms), footwear (except special footwear for sports), diapers, repairs or alterations to clothing and footwear, storage, dry cleaning, laundry, watches, and jewelry.
Transportation -All costs involved with owning or leasing an automobile including monthly installments toward principal cost, finance charges (interest), lease payments, gas and motor oil, insurance, maintenance and repairs. Also, included are other costs related to transportation such as public transit, parking fees, license and registration fees, towing, tolls, and automobile service clubs. The net outlay (purchase price minus the trade-in value) for a vehicle purchase is not included. Transportation also does not include expenses associated with a motor vehicle purchased or leased for the intended primary use of a child subject to the support order.
Unreimbursed Health Care Up to and Including $250 Per Child Per Year - Unreimbursed health-care expenditures (e.g., medical and dental) up to and including $250 per child per year are included in the schedules. Such expenses are considered ordinary and may include items such as non-prescription drugs, co-payments or health care services, equipment or products. The parent's cost of adding a child to health insurance policy is not included in the schedules.
Entertainment -Fees, memberships and admissions to sports, recreational, or social events, lessons or instructions, movie rentals, televisions, mobile devices, sound equipment, pets, hobbies, toys, playground equipment, photographic equipment, film processing, video games, and recreational, exercise or sports equipment.
Miscellaneous Items -Personal care products and services (e.g., hair, shaving, cosmetics), books and magazines, school supplies, cash contributions, personal insurance, and finance charges (except those for mortgage and vehicle purchases).
Note: Tuition for children (i.e., for private, parochial, or trade schools, or other secondary schools, or post-secondary education) are not included in the child support schedules and may be treated as a supplemental expense.