In a recent trial court published decision, the Court considered a parent’s obligation to share in the incremental cost of a child’s car insurance as an additional obligation beyond the child support being paid pursuant to the child support guidelines.
Although the Child Support Guidelines typically present a rebuttable presumption with regard to the amount of child support to be paid, the question with a teenage driver’s individual car expenses concerns (a) whether child support amounts under New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines already included a parent’s contribution to the cost of a child’s car insurance as a new teenage driver, or (b) whether such cost should be treated as an add-on expense and obligation supplementing basic child support.
Unfortunately, the guidelines and comments to the guidelines left this unresolved. Ultimately, after a lengthy review of the substance of the comments and legislative history, the Court’s holding was as follows: “…based upon the totality of a family’s economic circumstances, a court may in its discretion find good cause to deviate from the guidelines and require each parent to contribute additional reasonable and affordable monies towards a newly licensed teenage driver’s car insurance. Good cause may logically include, but not necessarily be limited to, the special nature and importance of car insurance and the need to adequately protect a child as a newly licensed driver.”
As with many issues of child support, this case shows that the guidelines are not as simple as one may think, and there are numerous issues to resolve regarding a child’s shared expenses beyond the basic child support amount.
To discuss your rights or obligations with regard to child support, contact Miller & Gaudio today.