What should I do if parenting is exactly 50/50? What is is the Wunsch-Deffler formula?
First, let us note that there is no definitive means of handling 50/50 Shared Parenting in the NJ Guidelines Rule.
The closest means of acceptable mathematical computation for “exactly equally shared parenting” is the Wunsch-Deffler v. Deffler case. This method was published in a 2009 Superior Court Opinion in Burlington County. It lacks standing in some circles as it was not published by the Appellate or Supreme Courts, and it may not be routinely accepted throughout the State. The formula and the case itself do not appear anywhere in the Guidelines Rule.
However, among our New Jersey customers, there was a fairly strong demand for automating the calculation, so we added it to the software even though it is not officially part of the Guidelines.
To specify the Wunsch-Deffler calculation, just go to the Key Support Data screen and check the Wunsch-Deffler box.
The case provided a mathematical formula that eliminates the provision in the Guideline Rules that the Custodial Parent alone bears the cost of the “Controlled Expenses” (25% of any NJ support award - consisting of clothing, personal care, entertainment, etc.). The formula mathematically adjusts the calculation to make both parents responsible for the Controlled Expenses, if there is “Exactly Equal Shared Parenting.”
The problem a lot of practitioners seem to have with 50/50 Parenting in general and Wunsch-Deffler calculations in particular, is that one of the parents still has to be entered into the calculation as Parent of Alternate Residence (PAR), when it fact, it is argued, that NO ONE is the PAR as both parents are equally Parent of Primary Residence (PPR)
But the Guidelines are ultimately a mathematical construct for determining a suggested amount of child support. That construct requires that one of the parties has to be designated PPR and the other PAR (see Appx. IX-A 14 (b)). There are 2 columns on every Guidelines worksheet- one for PAR and one for PPR. You have to choose whose figures to put in each column. (You may also decide that the guidelines do not apply, and negotiate your child support amount and/or ask the court for a deviation from the guideline formula.)
If you can decide who is PPR & who is PAR, and who is claiming the tax exemptions for the children, then Wunsch-Deffler is probably the best method we have of handling 50/50 Parenting in NJ.
Some practitioners run their calculations both ways. They do two separate Wunsch-Deffler calculations -- one with each parent as PAR and changing the tax exemptions -- to see how much of a difference there is.
The “Wunsch-Deffler” formula was intended to make a significant difference. You can see the math on line #15 of a guideline worksheet produced in Family Law Software where the Wunsch-Deffler option is selected.
Again, to specify the Wunsch-Deffler calculation, just go to the Key Support Data screen and check the Wunsch-Deffler box.
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