Child Support

Additional Child Support Required To Defray Additional Extracurricular Activities For A Gifted Child

This family law, child support case presented the question: What is a “gifted” child, as referenced in New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines? The issue arose in the context of considering defendant-mother’s application for an order requiring plaintiff-father to contribute a limited sum of additional funds, above and beyond basic guideline-level child support, to help defray the costs of their teenage daughter’s acting-related expenses and other extracurricular activities. Plaintiff objected to paying defendant additional funds for extra activities arguing that the cost of all such activities were already legally included in his basic child support obligation under New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines. The court found that from a legal standpoint, the most likely purpose behind the “gifted” exception under the guidelines was not to arbitrarily reward a child, or child’s custodial parent, with a financial bonus for having inborn talents.  Rather, the rationale was to provide some extra but specifically earmarked funds, of a reasonable amount to help advance a child’s potential, when such child demonstrated an unusually heightened desire and ability to achieve in a particular field or discipline. In this case the child demonstrated such an unusually heightened desire and ability. Under the circumstances, it was fair and equitable under the guidelines for both parents to contribute a small and reasonable annual supplemental amount, specifically to help support the child’s ongoing acting-related efforts and expenses. The court set a reasonable sum of up to an additional $250 per year, per party, as funds specifically earmarked for development of the child theatrical-related skills and activities.

Reference: P.S. vs. J.S., 20-4-1663, N.J. Super. Chanc. Div. Case & Analysis, New Jersey Law Journal, 222 N.J.L.J. 3463 (October 31, 2016)

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