Under New York law, children are entitled to benefit from the income and standard of living that their parents enjoy. When those parents divorce, the noncustodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent so that any children under 21 are not left financially bereft by the separation.

Child support in New York State is governed by the Child Support Standards Act, or CSSA. It may be awarded as part of a Supreme Court divorce action or Family Court proceeding.

How is child support calculated?

To determine how much child support is paid, the court calculates the net income of each parent and adds them together. If the result is under $143,000, then it is multiplied by a percentage. How much of a percentage depends on how many children the couple has. For one child it is 17% while five or more children call for a minimum of 35%. The amount is then split between each parent based on the proportion of their net income to the combined total.

For example: The mother, who makes $40,000 after taxes, is the custodial parent of one child. The father makes $50,000 after local taxes, social security and union fees and dues. Their combined annual income is $90,000. Because they only have one child, the applicable percentage is 17%, or $15,300 per year. The father’s portion of the child support payment is 5/9 of $15,900, or $8,900 per year or $742 a month.

Child support is not counted as income for the custodial parent and is not tax-deductible for the non-custodial parent.

Higher income considerations

If combined parental income exceeds $143,000, courts consider a number of factors before deciding whether or not to calculate additional child support. They include:

  • The financial resources of each parent and child
  • Whether or not the child has special health or educational needs
  • The standard of living the child would have had if the parents stayed together
  • Whether or not one of the parents will be in school

The court will also take into account how much the non-custodial parent will be paying for add-on expenses such as private school fees, college tuition, health care and day care. The support order for higher net worth parents is therefore not always formulaic.

Child support matters can be one of the most complicated aspects of a New York divorce action. So many variables are taken into account, especially when parental income exceeds the cap of $143,000. Anyone who is planning to divorce is strongly advised to engage an experienced New York child support attorney. An attorney will protect their client’s rights with respect to child support calculations while ensuring that any children receive the financial support they are entitled to. Jayson Lutzky has practiced law for more than 31 years. He has represented many clients in family and divorce proceedings and offers free in-office consultations. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to learn more or simply call 718-514-6619.