When parents separate or divorce, the law is designed to try to ensure the parent with physical custody over a child or children has access to the right resources to raise the child according to the incomes of each parent. Child support is one of the most common issues which needs to be addressed in a case involving children.
While there are various factors which can come into play when determining who should be responsible for providing child support, and how much support needs to be given, there are also specific guidelines in place to help with the calculation of appropriate levels of child support.
As I often advise my clients, New York law does provide a formula which helps the court to determine an appropriate level of child support. This formula allows for deviations to happen according to the specific needs of the case.
Recently a change occurred to the formula used for child support rewards, influencing the income cap considered when determining the appropriate amount to pay. Let’s explore how this income cap has changed and what it means for parents.
The Child Support Formula in New York
New York’s child support formula for determining the appropriate amount of child support to award in any given case requires the court to apply a statutory percentage to the calculation, based on the number of children and the combined parental income of both parents. There is a ceiling in place for this, which is set by a specific statute. However, as of March 1st, 2022, the income cap has changed, increasing from $154,000 to $163,000. This initial cap continues to go up over time.
In cases with a higher income than the initial cap, the court will apply statutory percentages as follows:
- 17% for child 1
- 25% for 2 children
- 29% for 3 children
- 31% for 4 children
This continues up to the first $163,000 of combined parental income, to determine the child support obligation for both children, which can then be pro-rated between the parties. The parent’s pro-rata shares is divided according to the percentage of income each parent has to the total. For instance, a larger share will be given to the parent with a larger income. The child support order, though, will be for how much money for basic support the non-custodial parent pay the custodial parent and what each parent’s share of add on expenses should be.
The non-custodial guardian’s pro-rata share of any basic combined support obligation presumptively, according to the statute, results in the correct amount of child support to be awarded. The idea in the law is to make the amount each parent offers to raising the child as fair as possible.
Understanding the Calculations
While the parent’s pro-rata share of the above percentages seems to be almost automatically ordered for income up to the initial cap, there are certain guidelines in the law to decide how much, if any, child support is appropriate for the rest of the income. For income exceeding the cap of $163,000 when both parental incomes are combined, the courts will be able to apply further statutory factors listed by the Act for Child Support Standards or apply the standard statutory percentage. The factors which may be considered include, but are not limited to:
- The financial resources of the non-custodial and custodial parent, and the child
- The emotional and physical health of the child and any special requirements they may have
- The standard of living which would have been enjoyed by the child if the household or marriage hadn’t come to an end.
- The tax consequences evident for both parties.
- The non-financial support given by each parent for the wellbeing and care of the child.
- Any educational requirements for the parents.
- The determination the gross income of one parent may be significantly less than the money earned by the other parent.
The courts may also include the needs of any children of the non-custodial parent which that parent is expected to continue providing support to. This amount cannot be applied if it has already been considered as a result of another sub-clause. The factor will only apply if the resources available to support other children the non-custodial parent is responsible for would be less than the resources available to support the children of the current case. The best interests of all children connected with the parties involved must be considered equally.
Provided the child isn’t on any public assistance, extraordinary expenses can also be considered for the non-custodial parent who might need to spend money to exercise visitation rights.
Additionally, the courts also have the right to consider any other factors they consider to be relevant according to each individual case. The court will order the non-custodial parent to pay their share of the basic child support obligation, and in some cases, they may need to pay more than the standard formula would indicate.
Child Support Requirements
Notably, according to the facts of the case, the end result may be the court doesn’t order any child support on income acquired over the first $163,000 and apply the statutory percentage of all income in excess of the cap, coming up with a more appropriate figure based entirely on the combined parental income of both parties.
If you’re concerned about an upcoming case for child support and you’re unsure how much you may be required to pay in such a case, it’s best to seek assistance from a child support attorney with experience in the area. As the court guidelines can change, having the support of a professional who understands your case and the latest guidelines is essential.
If you would like to learn more about child support law, you can find extra guidance on the blog pages of this website. If you would like to discuss your own case, you can contact my office to schedule an initial consultation, up to the first thirty minutes is free.