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Child Support


In New York both parents are responsible for their children’s support. That support can be determined by a legal formula applied to income, or by an agreement or court decision that deviates from the formula. Whether by formula or not, many complex issues can be involved in achieving a just and favorable child support obligation. For example, hidden income may need to be uncovered. Expert analysis of tax consequences can structure support to maximize financial benefits to both parents. Courts can impute income to non-working or “underemployed” parents in setting child support based on evidence presented skillfully at trial. Child support can also be modified when circumstances change, and a new 2010 law will have far-reaching effects on such modifications. A thorough understanding of local decisions and court practices can be invaluable in negotiating a fair settlement as well as litigating child support matters in court.

Child Support in High Net Worth Cases provide a different set of concerns and require another level of expertise, in that:

• High net worth situations provide many financial “points of negotiation” – including those that involve the children, but not child support. Real estate, bank and investment accounts, retirement, royalties, dividends, personal possessions – all of these become part of the discussion in a high net worth divorce, so do items like college savings accounts for the children. It’s important to ensure assets are divided equitably so that the children’s lives are disrupted as little as possible. To do so, you’ll need to consider more than just child support.

The CSSA provides a “floor,” not a “ceiling.” Put another way, while the court requires couples to meet the bare minimum standards of the CSSA, parents who are better equipped to provide more than the minimum for their children may wish to negotiate a child support agreement that does more. There are many ways to opt out of the Child Support Standards Act and reach an agreement that better suits the needs of both the custodial and non-custodial parents, as well as the children as they move forward in their post-divorce lives.

New York child support laws hold parents responsible for the financial support of their children until a child reaches 21 years of age. When a parent does not live with his or her child, he or she is required to pay child support to the custodial parent or to the person who is taking care of the child.

Child support includes:

• Cash payments based on the parent’s income and the needs of the child; and
• Health insurance or medical support for the child; and
• Payments for child care; and
• Payments for reasonable health care costs that are not covered by health insurance or regular medical support; and
• Typically payments for educational expenses and extra-curricular expenses.

Under child support laws in New York, support payments are based on combined parental net income. Each parent is required to submit a Statement of Net Worth to the court, which is a form listing all of a person’s financial information in detail, including income, expenses, assets, property, and debts. Once the court determines each parent’s income, it will add the amounts together and multiply that number by a percentage, depending on how many children the parents have together:

• 17 percent for one child
• 25 percent for two children
• 29 percent for three children
• 31 percent for four children
• No less than 35 percent for five or more children

The resulting amount is then divided based on the proportion of each parent’s net income to the combined parental net income. This final calculation determines how much a non-custodial parent will be required to pay the custodial parent in child support.

Preparing a Statement of Net Worth and calculating child support payments is difficult without a skilled and experienced New York City child support lawyer. Our attorneys will explain the child support guidelines, and how the process of paying and receiving child support works in New York.