New Jersey Child Support & Overnight Calculations

New Jersey child support is based on overnight percentages

New Jersey uses overnight totals in its child support formula to determine the amount of child support in your divorce case.

Besides income, overnight totals are a key part of the New Jersey child support formula. Your parenting time directly affects your child support, whether you pay or receive.

Most overnight totals are estimates (and thus incorrect)

New Jersey attorneys and judges often rely on overnight estimates only, even if they are incorrect, because counting total hours is tedious and time consuming. Divorcing parents often rely on these estimates as well.

Using estimates means your overnight totals are wrong when compared to your actual parenting time schedule. This means your child support amount will not be fair or exact.

How to calculate parenting time instead of relying on estimates

To calculate overnights, the easiest and most accurate way is to use software. Without software, you're forced to count each night for a whole year, which is error-prone when you include alternating holidays, summer break, and any changes to the schedule throughout the year.

The leading parenting time calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your parenting time to see if it was estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Parenting Time Now

Using software, you can also tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your total overnights, and you can see how your parenting time changes each year due to holidays and other events.

You can also track what actually happens, and show how much time you've actually received for any period of time. Historical information is a powerful tool when you request a child support modification or when you request more parenting time.

Fast facts on child custody and child support in New Jersey

In any divorce, New Jersey family courts award custody of the children to one or both parents. Custody is divided into legal custody and physical custody. The total parenting time factors into the child support formula for both sole and joint custody.

New Jersey sole physical custody: The children reside with and are supervised by the residential parent, while the other parent is entitled to scheduled visitations. In New Jersey, sole physical custody is given to the parent with whom the children spend the most time with. The non-residential parent receives 105 overnights, or 28 percent, or fewer each year.

New Jersey shared physical custody: Each parent has significant periods of physical custody, which allows them frequent and continuing contact with their children. New Jersey law outlines shared custody as any arrangement in which the child has regular and continuing contact with both parents. Parenting time does not have to be equally divided to qualify for shared physical custody.  The non-residential parent must host the children for 105 overnights or more each year to qualify for shared custody.

New Jersey child support formula and parenting time adjustment

New Jersey family courts use formulas that consider both parents' incomes and the needs of the child to arrive at a monthly child support amount.  A parenting time adjustment is given based on shared custody.

Sole custody formula: The total income from the two parents is put into the formula and then a basic monthly support is figured by using the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. Certain deductions are allowed when figuring total income. To be considered a sole custody case, the non-residential parent spends fewer than 105 days per year, or less than 28 percent of the time, with the children. .

Shared custody formula: While income and overnights figure into the shared custody formula, the calculations are slightly different than for sole custody. Overall, child support is lower when using the shared custody formula. In New Jersey, when a family court orders joint physical custody, each parent must host the children for at least 105 days per year. The more overnights the non-residential parent receives, the lower the child support.

Examples of sole child custody and New Jersey child support

Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert's adjusted income is $4,000 per month, while Mary's adjusted monthly income is $2,400. They have two children.

See how the child support amounts change in these examples:

  • Scenario #1: Robert is the non-residential parent in this sole custody case, and is scheduled to host the children for 73 days per year, or 20 percent of the time. He pays $1,304 in child support each month to Mary.
  • Scenario #2: Robert hosts the children for 92 overnights per year or 25 percent. He pays $1,264 in child support each month to Mary.
  • Scenario #3: Robert hosts the children for 105 overnights per year or 28 percent. He pays $1,232 in child support each month to Mary.

If Mary is the non-residential parent, she pays child support to Robert, based on the number of overnights.

In New Jersey sole custody cases, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent, regardless of income.

Examples of the shared custody formula in New Jersey child support

Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert's adjusted income is $4,000 per month, while Mary's adjusted monthly income is $2,400. They have two children.

See how the child support amounts change in these examples:

  • Scenario #1: Robert hosts the children for 105 days or 28 percent, just over the minimum to qualify for shared physical custody. He pays $1,032 in child support per month to Mary.
  • Scenario #2: Robert hosts the children for 146 days, or 40 percent. He pays $840 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #3: Robert hosts the children for 165 days, or 45 percent. He pays $756 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #4: If Robert and Mary agreed to a 50/50 split, or 182 days, he pays $676 in child support. This is because he is the higher earner.

If Mary were the non-residential parent, she would pay child support to Robert, and be eligible for a parenting time adjustment based on the total number of overnights with the children.

Other factors in the New Jersey child support formula

New Jersey's child support formula uses the following information to calculate your monthly amounts for shared custody child support:

Eligible children: The obligation for a parent to provide child support for a child ends at the age of majority, which in the state of New Jersey is 18. However, family courts in New Jersey often extend child support to children who are enrolled full time in post-secondary education.  

Gross earnings: Gross earnings are established based on tax records and current pay stubs. New Jersey law requires the use of both parents' incomes from the equivalent of one full-time job to determine a child support amount.

Specific deductions: There are some deductions allowed by New Jersey family courts that allow an adjustment of the income, including health insurance premiums for the children, support for other children and child care expenses, for example.

How accurate child support helps your children

Paying accurate child support helps your children in several ways, primarily because it ensures their financial needs are met.

Here are some other reasons why accurate overnight numbers help you, the other parent and your children:

  • It provides a fair way to determine your child support amounts
  • It guarantees the child support amount reflects each parent's responsibilities
  • It allows for modifications if your actual time and scheduled time are different
  • It is compliant with New Jersey law

Your financial obligations to your children don't end with divorce, so whether you are paying or receiving child support, you owe it to your children to pay or receive the proper amount.

Top 5 things to remember about New Jersey child support and overnights

To ensure you are paying or receiving the right amount of child support in New Jersey, remember these 5 things:

  1. New Jersey Child Support Guidelines award sole and joint physical custody based on the number of overnights the non-residential parent receives.
  2. Sole physical custody means that the non-residential parent is scheduled for fewer than 105 days with the children per year. A parenting time credit is given in sole custody cases depending on the number of overnights.
  3. A parenting time credit is given in shared custody cases to non-residential parents when both parents provide care for their children for 105 days or more. The higher the parenting time total, the lower the child support amount.
  4. In the case of an approximate 50/50 split in parenting time, the higher earner pays child support to the lower earner.
  5. The non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent in most cases.

Use Custody X Change software to create a custody schedule that will quickly calculate the total parenting time for the New Jersey child support formula.


The leading parenting time calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your parenting time to see if it was estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Time

The leading parenting time calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your parenting time to see if it was estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Parenting Time Now