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How Does a Court Calculate Child Support?

In New York, state law requires that courts calculate child support amounts. If you or someone you know is going through a divorce, legal representation is vital to preserve your rights and know your obligations under the law. Contact a divorce attorney in NYC right away for assistance.

Child Support Basics

Child support, or money one former spouse pays the other to help support their child or children, includes many types of expenses. These could consist of health insurance, medical expenses, school tuition, and even childcare if the custodial parent works or is in school. Generally, the parent who spends less time with the child makes payment to the other parent. While the amount of child support due is based on the income of both parents, what each parent is able to provide is taken into account in court-ordered child support.

Child Support Guidelines

Child support in New York is governed by the Child Support Standard Act (also known as CSSA or “the guidelines”) and is found in two parallel statutes: the Domestic Relations Law 240(1-b) and Family Court Act 413. Two parts make up NY child support: basic child support award and add-ons.

Basic child support is calculated based on an initial capped amount (presently at $141,000 and adjusted annually) of combined parental income. A percentage of the capped combined income will be calculated relative to the number of children, which are mandated by statute. These include:

• One child: 17%

• Two children: 25%

• Three children: 29%

• Four children: 31%

• Five children: no less than 35%

Each parent’s share of child support is prorated proportionately to the individual’s income as compared to the combined amount. For combined income above and beyond the capped amount, the court has discretion whether or not to use the percentage guidelines and, instead, use the following factors to determine the child support award:

• Financial resources of each parent and the child;

• Child’s physical and emotional health, including any special needs;

• Child’s standard of living prior to the divorce;

• Tax consequences for each parent;

• Non-financial contributions each parent will make toward the child’s well-being;

• Educational needs, if any, of the parents;

• Difference in the gross incomes of the parents; and

• Needs of any other children of the non-custodial parent for whom the spouse is providing support.

In addition to basic support, a court’s child support order must include pro-rate add-ons such as health care and expenses, day care (if appropriate), and costs associated with education. If a court finds that a parent has reduced income in an effort to avoid paying child support, a court may impute additional income based on previous income. An award of final child support, according to state law, is retroactive to the date of the first request. Moreover, child support is not tax deductible nor is it counted as income.

Legal Resources Available

While state law requires courts to decide child support awards, a divorce attorney in NYC can assist with all other aspects of the process. Don’t try to navigate through the law alone during this difficult time. Call (718)-233-2903 today to schedule your initial consultation.