The self support reserve is the amount of money a parent paying support needs to have available to support themselves. It is intended to ensure low-income parties can meet their own basic needs as well as provide an incentive for continued employment. In Pennsylvania, the self-support reserve is presently $931 a month. This number reflects the federal poverty level for one person. In calculating a support award when the party to pay support has income equal or less to the self-support reserve amount, the court can only award support after consideration of the parties' actual financial resources and living expenses instead of a strict adherence to the guideline amount.
New Jersey also has a self-support reserve to consider in determining a support award. The self-support reserve for New Jersey is calculated based on 105% of the U.S. poverty guideline for one person. If the net income of the party paying support drops below the self support reserve after consideration of the support award, the support should be adjusted. The exception to this rule is if the custodial's parent's net income minus the child support award is less than half the self support reserve amount in which case there is no adjustment. A court may impute income or assign an earning capacity to a party prior to a determination on whether application of the self support reserve is appropriate.