Child Support Law Firm in White Plains
Westchester County attorney is committed to your family
Whether you are likely to be paying child support or receiving it, Lauren B. Abramson, Esq. is dedicated to protecting your interests and the interests of your child. If you will be paying child support, you should be aware that the court won’t approve a proposal that calls for payments inadequate for the proper care of your child. If you will be receiving child support, you should keep in mind that a bigger child support obligation is not always better — if the support payments are unrealistic, there’s a greater risk of nonpayment.
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 child
- 25 percent of the parents’ combined income, if there are two children
- 29 percent of the parents’ combined income, if there are three children
- 31 percent of the parents’ combined income, if there are four children
- At least 35 percent of the combined income, if there are five or more children
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.
The percentages are applied to almost all earnings up to $136,000. 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.
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 $136,000. 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 virtually all cases, some expenses not calculated under the guidelines will be included in the child support order over and above "basic child support" such as:
- Medical support — One parent may be required to provide health insurance coverage for the child, and to cover all or a portion of any deductibles and copayments.
- Daycare expenses — Parents may be required to pay a prorated share of daycare expenses if the custodial parent is working or in school.
- School expenses — Parents may be required to pay a prorated share of educational expenses for the child.
Can we agree on payments not based on the formula?
Subject to approval by the court, parents can agree on a child support amount different from the amount calculated under the state child support guidelines, so long as both parents acknowledge in writing the reasons for his or her deviation from the guidelines and the amount of child support indicated by the guidelines. To increase the likelihood that the agreement will win court approval, it should be drafted by an experienced family law attorney.
What if a parent’s income changes after the support order?
If either parent has a change in income, either parent can ask for a change in child support. For example, if the paying parent’s income goes up, the other parent may ask the court to increase child support. On the other hand, if income goes down, the paying parent may ask the court for a downward modification.
A small change in income is not enough to support a modification request — the change must be substantial unless the parties opt out. The current law is that there must be an increase or decrease in income of 15% to support a modification request based upon a change in income. The attorney and staff at the law offices of Lauren B. Abramson have many years of experience helping families make adjustments in child support.
Contact our New York attorney about your child support options
Lauren B. Abramson, Esq. helps families throughout Westchester County and beyond. Our office is across from Saxon Woods Park, between the Hutchinson River Parkway and the New England Thruway. We’re open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Parking is free. Call us at 914-908-6829 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation.