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New York law makes both parents responsible for the financial support of children.  Basic child support payments are based upon complex formulas and discretionary factors set forth in the Child Support Standards Act (“CSSA”).  Under the CSSA, the parent who has physical custody of children for more overnights under the parenting schedule is the party entitled to receive child support payments. If the parties share equal time with the children, then the parent who has a lower income is the one entitled to receive child support.

To determine the amount of basic child support, the income of each party must first be ascertained.  Income for the purposes of child support calculations generally equals the gross income reported on each party’s most recently filed tax returns.  From this amount, certain line items are subtracted, including payroll deductions such as Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, and local taxes (i.e., NYC taxes). Income not reported on the parties' tax returns may be added for the purposes of the CSSA calculations.

After ascertaining each party’s income, the combined parental income must be determined, as well as each party’s pro rata percentage of the combined parental income.  For example, if a father has an income of $150,000 and a mother has an income of $75,000, the combined parental income equals $225,000 ($150,000 + $75,000); the father’s pro rata portion of the combined parental income totals 66% ($150,000 / $225,000), and the mother’s pro rata portion equals 33% ($75,000 / 225,000).

Next, a statutory formula is applied to the combined parental income (capped at $154,000).  The formula changes based upon the number of children and the payor’s pro rata percentage of the combined parental income.  The applicable child support formula is: [the combined parental income up to $154,000] x [the statutory percentage based on the number of children] x [the payor’s pro rata percentage of the combined parental income].  

Under the CSSA, the statutory percentage based on the number of children is:

·         One child: 17%

·         Two children: 25%

·         Three children: 29%

·         Four children: 31%

·         Five or more children: 35%

Using the incomes set forth in the example above (husband earns an income of $150,000 and the wife earns $75,000)—and assuming that the parties’ have two children and the mother is the custodial parent—the formula would be as follows: $154,000 [combined parental income up to cap] x .25 [% for two children] x. .66 [pro rata percentage for the father] = $25,410 annually, or $2,117 per month ($25,410 / 12 months).  

A court has discretion to deviate above the presumptive amount under the CSSA calculation after consideration of various statutory factors, including, among other things: the financial resources of the parties; the physical and emotional health of the child and her/his special needs and aptitudes; the standard of living the children would have enjoyed had the marriage or household not been dissolved; the educational needs of either parent; the determination that the gross income of one parent is substantially less than the other parent’s gross income; and any other factor the court deems relevant. 

Given these complexities, Andrew T. Coyle is here to help you navigate through New York child support calculations.

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