Where there are children produced in a relationship or during a marriage that are under the age of twenty-one, child support is to be considered and determined in the event of a breakup. The law in New York provides that both parents are responsible to share in the financial responsibility of raising their children until the age of 21 or earlier emancipation.
More specifically, Domestic Relations Law Section 240 and Family Court Act Section 413 comprises the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) which describes how child support is calculated.
The basic child support amount is based upon a formula of the combined parental income up to $136,000. Each parent is responsible for a percentage of each parent’s respective income depending upon the number of children they have together.
The income of both parents is determined by including their respective income including worker’s compensation, disability benefits, unemployment insurance, social security, veteran’s benefits, pension and retirement benefits and other sources of income as defined by the applicable statute. Sometimes the courts may impute income from other sources to a parent.
Certain deductions are also allowed for FICA, NYC income taxes, spousal support to be paid, child support or spousal support paid on behalf of another child or former spouse.
In addition to the basic child support amount, additional payments may be required for additional expenses including health insurance coverage, unreimbursed medical costs, child care, education costs, and those costs together with the basic child support is called the total child support obligation.
Must the CSSA calculation be applied?
Yes, the CSSA statutory formula must be applied and calculated. However, the parents can enter into private agreement that provide for child support that is higher or lower than the total child support obligation as determined pursuant to CSSA so long as certain requirements are met:
1. Both parents have been advised of the CSSA formula.
2. The parents are provided with a copy of a chart which shows the CSSA calculation.
3. The basic child support obligation is stated in the final agreement.
4. A statement as to the reasons for agreeing upon a different amount.
Can any agreement of child support be changed or recalculated in the future?
Yes. If there has been a change in circumstances, either parent can seek to modify the child support obligation. Also, New York State statutes provide that child support orders can be changed as follows:
1. Three years have passed since the order was entered, last modified or adjusted; or,
2. There has been a change in income of either parent by 15% or more since the other was entered, last modified or adjusted.