Most New Jersey divorce cases utilize a standardized child support formula in order to arrive at the appropriate amount of support. However, the basic child support formula doesn’t cover unique circumstances. While the child support formula asks questions about primary custody and the income of the parties, it does not get into detail about the specific circumstances of the parents and the children. The New Jersey child support system allows judges to make exceptions for extraordinary circumstances.

Deviating from the child support formula

Some expenses for children are considered ordinary. For example, the cost to go on a school field trip or buy a prom dress is considered an ordinary expense. For ordinary expenses, the expenses are a part of the child support award. Because child support is proportional based on income, the added amounts for higher incomes are meant to cover increasing opportunities for extracurricular activities.

However, some circumstances are not ordinary. For example, if a child needs special education, that’s an extraordinary need. A child who needs a special diet or medical equipment might have extraordinary expenses. Even private school tuition or expenses for children who pursue an activity at a very high level can fall under the category of extraordinary. The court may deviate from the child support formula to add additional amounts. When parents do not agree, the court determines whether an expense is ordinary or extraordinary.

Paying extraordinary expenses for children after divorce

Every parent should think about extraordinary expenses as part of child support. An expense may increase the child support obligation, but it isn’t always clear whether a cost falls under ordinary or extraordinary child support. Parents should be aware that extraordinary expenses are a possibility and work to arrive at the appropriate amount of support. A family law attorney may help parents come to an agreement or, failing that, represent their client in court.