HOW IS CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATED IN NEW YORK?
The New York Child Support Standards Act is designed to ensure that child support awards are fair and consistent throughout the state. The statutory guidelines are intended to allow children to maintain the same standard of living they would have had if their parents hadn’t divorced.
The law sets the basic support award at a percentage of parental income, based on the number of children. Under the guidelines, child support should equal:
• 17 percent
of the parents’ combined income, if there is one
• 25 percent
of the parents’ combined income, if there are two
• 29 percent
of the parents’ combined income, if there are three
• 31 percent
of the parents’ combined income, if there are four
• At least 35 percent
of the combined income, if there are five or more
The result of this calculation is known as the basic child support obligation, which is multiplied by each parents’ respective percentage of the combined income. The noncustodial parent pays his or her share of the basic child support obligation to the custodial parent. Basic child support covers food, clothing, and housing expenses.
The percentages are applied to almost all earnings up to $143,000. Any disability, worker compensation, unemployment, Social Security or pension benefits you are receiving must be included in the income total. Before applying the percentages to your income, you can deduct Medicare, FICA and municipal tax payments as well as any other child support or alimony you already are paying to a spouse or child from a prior marriage or relationship pursuant to an order.
DO THE NEW YORK CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES ALWAYS APPLY?
Under New York child support laws, the court has discretion to apply or not apply the guidelines formula if the parents’ combined income exceeds $143,000. When exercising its discretion in such cases, the court considers a number of factors, including:
• The financial resources of the child and each parent
• The child’s physical and emotional health and any special needs
• The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if not for the divorce
• Tax consequences of each spouse
• Each parent’s non-monetary contributions toward the care of the child
• Educational needs of either parent
• If one parent’s income is substantially lower than the other’s
In addition to basic child support, parents are required by the NY Child Support Standards Act to pay a pro rata share of:
• Health Insurance premiums attributable to the child.
• Unreimbursed/uncovered health care expenses.
• Childcare expenses if the custodial parent is working or in school.
• School expenses – parents may be required to pay a prorated share of post-secondary, private, special or enriched educational expenses for the child.