Child Support

Child Support

New York State is governed by the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) which is codified in New York Family Court Act section 413 and New York Domestic Relations Law section 240. Pursuant to the CSSA, the non-custodial parent is obligated to pay support in pre-determined percentages depending on the number of children the parties have, and in the proportion his or her income bears to the total combined income. This may sound confusing, but for practical purposes the non-custodial parent generally will be expected to pay the following percentages of his or her adjusted gross income based upon the number of children to be supported:

  • One child: 17%
  • Two children: 25%
  • Three children: 29%
  • Four children: 31%
  • Five of more children: 35% (or more) 

Gross income generally includes all income, from whatever source. The adjusted gross income is calculated by subtracting FICA taxes and New York City and Yonkers income taxes, not federal or state income taxes. A simple FICA calculation often used by the courts is to multiply the non-custodial parent's income by .0765. Accordingly, a gross income of $50,000 would be reduced by $3,825, for an adjusted gross income of $46,175. This sum would then be multiplied by the applicable percentage based upon the number of children the parties have. For example, if the parties have two children then the non-custodial parent's support obligation would be 25% of $46,175, or $11,543.75/year. This number can be further broken down into monthly payments simply by dividing it by 12, thereby making the support obligation $961.98/month.

It should be noted that the court has discretion to deviate from the CSSA guidelines if the formula calculations result in an unjust or inappropriate measure of child support. However, the court must make specific and detailed findings setting forth the particular factors, taking into account such items as the financial resources of the parents, the physical and emotional health of the child and his or her special needs, the standard of living of the child and a host of other relevant factors.

It should also be noted that Domestic Relations Law section 32 obligates parents to support a child until the age of 21 unless that child becomes emancipated.

Finally, the Child Support Standards Act further requires that the non-custodial parent contribute his or her pro-rata share of any non-reimbursed medical expenses, tuition, child care, extra-curricular activities and other associated pre-college costs.

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