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How Child Support is Determined in New York

Posted on October 15, 2019

Many factors contribute to figuring out appropriate child support payments

At first glance, determining child support payments may seem like the simplest aspect of the divorce. After all, there is a formula and a chart to help make the decisions.

But any discussion of money can be stressful, and discussions of child support can become very tense.

When child support becomes part of the divorce agreement

In the steps of the divorce process, child support decisions follow those regarding child custody. Usually the parent awarded less time with the child is responsible for paying child support. While there is a formula, outlined in the New York Child Support Standards Act, determining the amount of support is not as simple as it seems and can be negotiated to meet the best interests of your child. New York has fixed percentages of gross income and vary only by the number of children. The non-custodial parent is expected to pay:

      • 17% for 1 child
      • 25% for 2 children
      • 29% for 3 children
      • 31% 4 children
      • No less than 35% for 5 children

Even in this document, it refers to the “approximate” amount of annual child support. If combined family income exceeds $148,000, the law does not require adherence to this formula. Additionally, if one of the parents does not have a predictable or consistent month-to-month income, the guidelines may not work for you. This means that it is possible to come up with an amount that truly considers the needs of your family, and your New York divorce and Family Court attorney should be prepared to fight for your best interests and find a fair and appropriate amount of child support.

Costs in addition to child support payments

Under New York state law, parents must financially support their children until the age of 21, unless the children emancipate, join the military or get married before that age. Child support payments are required until that time as well. Parents are also required to provide health coverage to children until age 21 or otherwise emancipation. This support is often in addition to child support payments, and your New York family law attorney can help to make sure that coverage is considered when deciding the amount of child support required. Your lawyer may also consider the following costs not factored into support payments:

      • Child care costs
      • Educational expenses
      • Medical costs not covered by insurance
      • One-time costs, such as sports programs, hobby lessons, sleep away camps, technology costs and upgrades, special event costs for school dances, a child’s car or car insurance, and countless other occasions that arise in a child’s life

Retroactive child support

In a divorce case, child support is determined after child custody agreements are arranged. A difficult and contested divorce will likely last beyond several months, and New York Supreme courts may decide that child support is owed during the divorce process and order temporary support. If the parties are not married, the case will be heard in a New York Family Court. If there is an acknowledgment of paternity and the petitioner comes to court with that document and the child’s birth certificate, a temporary support order will be made the first time the parties are in court. If the final amount of support is more than what was ordered or paid during the temporary order, the custodial parent will receive retroactive support payments. The court could order that the non-custodial parent make child support payments dating back to the day which a child support application was initially filed, not just when the decision is finalized. This means that the non-custodial parent may owe a large chunk of support payments before the end of the divorce process.

Failure to pay child support may result in the non-custodial parent facing wage garnishments, contempt of court charges, credit report damage, driver’s license suspension, or up to six months in jail.

Skilled attorneys finding a sustainable child support agreement for your family’s future

The child support guidelines are a good starting point in determining a child support obligation, but your New York matrimonial law attorney should not stop there. The law office of Vivien I. Stark, P.C. investigates every factor in your family law case to determine the best possible outcome for you and your children. Serving Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and surrounding counties, our NYC child support lawyers are here for you. Contact us online or call us at (212) 349-1600 today to schedule your initial consultation.