Divorce and family law are guided by state laws as opposed to federal laws. While it may seem that a divorce is a divorce, it is not quite that simple. For example, child support calculations vary by state. It is not percentage of one’s income that must be paid as child support that varies, but it also whose income is used to compute child support. There are three predominant ways to calculate child support in the United States—the “Income Shares Model,” the “Percentage of Income Model” and the “Melson Formula” according to a National Council of State Legislators article.

The purpose of child support is so that when parents split apart, the custodial parent has enough money to be able to raise the child reasonably. In New York State, the courts use the “Percentage of Income Model.” In this setup, the non-custodial parent’s income is what determines how much child support that child must pay. The determination is based on a chart that takes into account the number of children the parent is supporting and his or her income. While there are exceptions for parents living at or below the poverty line, in general, child support is calculated as follows.

  • For one child, the annual support is 17% of the non-custodial parent’s annual income.
  • For two children, the annual support is 25% of the non-custodial parent’s annual income.
  • For three children, the annual support is 29% of the non-custodial parent’s annual income.
  • For four children, the annual support is 31% of the non-custodial parent’s annual income.
  • For five or more children, the annual support is at least 35% of the non-custodial parent’s annual income.

New York State provides a table with the calculations of child support for many income levels. To view the full table as a PDF, visit: https://www.childsupport.ny.gov/dcse/pdfs/cssa_2014.pdf.

There are add-ons to this child support formula, such as payments for babysitting and education. There is not a table to guide the size of these payments, so it is often determined in court by a child support magistrate or through negotiation. The other two forms of calculating child support can take into account these add-ons, but rules vary by state. Furthermore, if a parent pays child support to parent and also owes child support to a second parent, the amount of child support paid to the first parent is deducted from the parent’s income when determining the amount of support to pay to the second parent.

In an Income Shares Model of child support, the calculation is based on both parent’s income. The concept of this method is to provide the child with the proportional resources of both parents. This concept tries to view the parent’s finances as intact, like the before they split if they were ever living together.

Finally, a sharp minority of states use the Melson Formula. This formula was determined in a 1989 court case in Delaware.

If you are seeking child support, then you should contact a lawyer. A lawyer can help you get the money you are eligible to receive on a regular basis. Jayson Lutzky is an attorney handling family court cases, including child support. He has over 31 years of legal experience and offers free in person consultations. Call 718-514-6619 to set up a no obligation, confidential appointment. Visit Mr. Lutzky’s website, www.MyNewYorkCityLaywer, for more information on divorce and family law matters.