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Alimony Payments May Offset Child Support Obligations to Your Former Spouse for Your College Kids

By Snyder & Sarno on June 05, 2015


In the recent unpublished New Jersey Appellate Division case Jackson v. Jackson, the plaintiff ex-husband appealed a post-divorce order for child support payments.  Plaintiff moved to emancipate the parties’ child and to terminate alimony payments to defendant ex-wife.  A child who reaches the age of 18 may be, but is not necessarily, emancipated.  See Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529, 543 (1982). 

If the child is enrolled in, attends, and demonstrates an ability to continue a higher education program, the child is not considered to be emancipated.  See Gac v. Gac, 186 N.J. 535, 543 (2006).  After defendant presented documentation showing the child’s status as a full-time college student, the judge denied both the emancipation request and the alimony termination request. 

The judge then recalculated plaintiff’s child support payments to his ex-wife, and the new amount came to $183 per week.  Noting that it was erroneous, the appellate panel reversed the revised child support payment amount.  The calculation failed to take into account the $125 weekly alimony payment by plaintiff to defendant and the allocation of payments for the child’s health insurance.  The computation should have deducted the alimony payments from plaintiff’s income and included it instead in the defendant’s income. 

The appellate panel could not rule on plaintiff’s claim of error in computing defendant’s weekly gross income, since the trial judge did not state the factual basis for his calculations.  As a result, the case was sent back down to the trial judge to recalculate a child support amount that considers plaintiff’s weekly alimony payments to defendant, as well as the cost of the child’s health insurance. 

If you are currently going through a divorce, or have an issue with alimony or child support, contact the skilled matrimonial attorneys at Snyder & Sarno, LLC.  The attorneys at Snyder & Sarno are experienced in handling cases where the parties share assets.  Call us today at (973) 274-5200. 

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