New York Divorce FAQ’s – Child Support

This is about child support in New York after divorce, including how child support gets figured, how parents can change child support, when the court orders for child support to be withheld from paychecks, and when the court will deviate from child support guidelines in New York.

This information is from Steven Abel, the DivorceInfo Network Lawyer for New York. Click here for information on him.

How does child support get figured?

Pursuant to the Child Support Standards Act, usually called the Guidelines, (or by agreement acknowledging what the CSSA amount would have been. New York law uses parent’s income as the prime measure. Expenses are virtually ignored.

POINT 1: Determine parental income — including regular self- employment income, and deducting Social Security, etc., up to a technical maximum of $80,000 per year. Income to be included is very inclusive. The technical starting point is “total income” found on line 22 of current IRS form 1040. Other forms of non-taxable income also count for child support purposes. In practice the Courts use the non-custodial parent’s income up to $125,000 per year.

POINT 2: Multiply the non-custodial parent’s income by the right percentage: 17% for one child; 25% for two children; 29% for three children; 31% for four children; 35% for five children or more. The result is the child support for everything except child care, medical and educational expenses.

POINT 3: Child care, medical, and educational expenses will usually be pro-rated in proportion to the parent’s income.

POINT 4: Future increases in support are based upon the Guidelines.

POINT 5: The courts may ignore all of the above for any good reason.

The parties may by agreement ignore all of the above for any reason, so long as it is described in the agreement, and so long as the amount required by the Guidelines is also spelled out.

How do you change child support?

When child support has been awarded pursuant to Guidelines, a modification because of a reduction in income must be based upon a sharp reduction in earnings. An upward modification of support usually requires proof of increased income.

Does child support get deducted from the payor’s paycheck? How?

The law requires payroll deduction unless the parties agree otherwise. Deductions are made by Income Executions, which can be submitted by the attorneys or child support enforcement offices.

When will the court allow a deviation from the guidelines?

Deviations are allowed if the parties agree to deviate, or if a court finds that it would be unjust or inappropriate to apply the formula guidelines. The courts then use of the factors set forth in Family Court Act section 413(1)(f) and Domestic Relations Law section 240 (1-b)(f), which factors are merely an expansion of the pre-CSSA factors. The factors are:

  1. The financial resources of the parents and the child.
  2. The physical and emotional health of the child and his/her special needs.
  3. The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage or household was not dissolved.
  4. The tax consequences to the parents.
  5. The non-monetary contributions the parents will make toward the care and well-being of the child.
  6. The educational needs of the parents.
  7. The fact that the gross income of one parent is substantially less than the gross income of the other parent.
  8. The needs of the other children of the non- custodial parent for whom the non-custodial parent is providing support, but only after considering the financial resources of any other person obligated to support the other children. This factor only applies if the resources available to support the other children are less then the resources available to support the children involved in this matter.
  9. Any other factor the court decides is relevant. In fixing child support above the CSSA guidelines, the court may consider the parties’ financial resources, the higher standard the children would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved, and the fact that the one parent’s income is substantially greater that the other’s.

Other issues in New York: