Child support in New York is paid to the parent who spends the majority of the time with the children, known as the custodial parent. The amount of child support that the non-custodial parent pays is determined by a formula, known as the Child Support Standards Act.
Generally speaking, the income of both parents is added together, Social Security and Medicaid taxes are deducted, and the result is multiplied by 17% for one child, 25% for two children or 29% for three children. The result is the total, yearly child support. The non-custodial parent then pays his or her pro rata share of the total support.
For example, assuming that the parties have two children, that the mother is the custodial parent and earns $40,000 per year, and that the father earns $80,000 per year. The father’s child support obligation would be calculated as follows. First, Social Security and Medicaid taxes are subtracted: $80,000 – $6,120 = $73,880 father, $40,000 – $3,060 = $36,940 mother. Next, the total net income of $110,820 is multiplied by 25%, resulting in a total child support of $27,705 per year. Of this amount, the father pays 66% (his pro rata share) which is $18,285 per year or $1,524 per month.
There can be additional factors which complicate the calculation. If the parents’ combined income is greater than the statutory cap (currently $141,000), the amount of child support that must be paid for income exceeding the cap is discretionary, and thus must be determined either by negotiation or by a judge. If a party’s income is difficult or impossible to determine, perhaps because he or she works in a cash business, then a thorough investigation of his finances will be required and a forensic accountant may be necessary. If maintenance is being paid in addition to child support, the apportionment of maintenance and child support may be adjusted to increase to after-tax benefit to both parties.
Finally, even if both parents spend equal or nearly equal time with the children, the court will still award child support. The court have ruled that even in such situations the parent who has greater income must pay child support pursuant to the formula. In some cases, however, where each parent has equal time with the child a lesser amount of child support, or even a waiver of support, can be negotiated.
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