New York Child Support
In New York, child support is calculated in accordance with a statutory formula that is commonly referred to as the Child Support Standards Act, or “CSSA.” The amount of support is based on combined parental income and number of minor children. The CSSA has a combined income cap that is often broken based on marital standard of living.
The Child Support Standards Chart, which can be used to determine an approximate annual support obligation, is released annually on or before April 1. For a detailed explanation of all factors used by the court in calculating a child support obligation, you should consult an experienced family law attorney.
Although the statutory calculation relies on your most recently filed tax return to set child support, for some self-employed or business-owning parents, their income fluctuates from year-to-year or month-to-month. To resolve this issue, we ask the court to use a representative sampling of that parent’s historic earnings over the past several years before setting an amount for child support.
Duration of Child Support
New York Law requires that child support be paid until a child reaches the age of twenty-one (21) or is otherwise emancipated through marriage, enrollment in the military, or full-time employment. If a child is enrolled in full-time college away from the custodial parent’s residence, and the payor of child support is contributing to college room and board in addition to the regular support payments, then the payor may be entitled to a credit for their monetary contributions towards those expenses.
The Role of Marital Lifestyle
New York is an equitable distribution state. Generally speaking, the longer the marriage, the more likely the court will divide the marital estate equally. That said, if the non-custodial parent owns a business and the custodial parent wants to stay in the marital residence with the children, marital assets do not need to be divided 50-50 in kind. This means that one spouse may keep the business and the other spouse can keep the residence, assuming they are of approximately equal value.
Marital lifestyle absolutely plays a role in the determination of child and spousal support. The New York matrimonial statute uses “income caps” for calculating support. However, the court has leeway to deviate from those caps in high-net-worth scenarios in order to provide child and spousal support which will allow the “non-moneyed” custodial parent to afford themselves and the children a lifestyle commensurate with the marital lifestyle if possible.
In New York, there are two aspects of child support: Basic child support, and “add-on” expenses. Basic child support is a monthly sum, based upon a statutory formula, paid to the parent with primary residential custody by the other parent for basic children’s expenses, such as shelter, food, and clothing. If the family unit had a history of expensive yearly vacations, a court may factor a budget for a similar annual trip into the basic child support award.
“Add-on” expenses include all other children’s expenses. There are statutory and non-statutory add-ons. By law, parents are required to contribute to the medical and child care of their children. In general, a court will look at the children’s historical add-ons to determine what other children’s expenses the noncustodial parent must pay for, such as private school or extracurricular activities.