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How child support should be used

Despite the fact that both parents are legally mandated to support their children, child support often goes unpaid. One study in the 1990s found that while almost half of child support payments were in default, the same was true of only 3 percent of car loans. However, in some cases, a New Jersey parent might struggle to keep up child support payments because the amount has been set so high. In other cases, custodial parents might abuse the system by using the child support money for their own personal items.

Child support may be used for household expenses because this contributes to a safe and comfortable environment for the child. Child support may also go toward the child's clothing, food, school supplies and trips. It should not be used for solo restaurant meals or trips the parent takes without the child. Any leftover money at the end of the month should be set aside for any other child-related expenses that may arise.

In some cases, parents might pay less child support because they are shouldering the bulk of other expenses such as health care. However, this does not release them from their obligations, and they must also help with expenses agreed upon in the parenting plan.

At some point, parents may need to renegotiate child support arrangements or agreements about expenses in the parenting plan. For example, one parent might lose their job and be unable to continue paying the same amount of support. The court must agree to a modification in support before the parent can stop paying the regular amount. If the parent simply stops paying, then a court might take child support enforcement measures that could include a wage garnishment.

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