Trying to put a price on a person’s life is complicated. New Jersey’s child support guidelines include a list of expenses that should be considered and the question is: how can these be easily entered into New Jersey matrimonial software like CIS? Although it is possible to itemize every single item, it may not be the best solution.
Itemization Takes Time and May Not Be Accurate
In theory the parents could go through their receipts for the last year or so to figure out every penny that was spent on little Junior. However is it really worth figuring how much of that toilet paper bought on June 24 was used by the kid? And yes, the cost of toilet tissue is specifically listed under Housing expenses in New Jersey law.
On the other hand many reasonable expenses are specifically excluded under New Jersey law such as the cost of a car for the child’s own use, private school tuition, and non-food items such as alcohol and cigarettes. And if that latter exclusion seems strange, remember that child support is often continued past the age of 18 or 21 if the child is in college or disabled. The point here is that a penny-by-penny accounting in NJ matrimonial software may theoretically be accurate, but is it right?
Going For a More General Solution
Although the payor typically wants an itemized list of every cent, the fact is that settlement agreements are written in more general terms. Although the law might say you could list that $1 candy bar the kid bought in a vending machine three months ago, is that really going to affect the child support award much?
The basic award calculated by CIS New Jersey family law software and by NJ law is based on income and in most cases this is not only fair to both parties, but also takes a minimum of effort (read “billable hours the client is going to have to pay for”) to calculate. Yes it’s worth looking at big ticket items like rent, or regular payments such as insurance, to ensure the award calculated seems reasonable, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary or advisable to pore over every credit card receipt.
Then again it’s often not up to you, the attorney. A client payor might insist on this kind of itemization and if so, our family law practice management software can handle it. However a little advice from you to the client can go a long way to simplifying the divorce and, most important, be in the child’s best interest.