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When Should There Be Child Support Beyond the Initial Cap in New York?

May 16, 2018

Divorce is difficult under the best of circumstances, and becomes more difficult when the couple has minor children still living at home. The courts of New York place a lot of emphasis on ensuring the children are cared for financially as well as in other ways. Part of that process focuses on determining the amount of child support that is reasonable. While the initial cap may apply from the time of the divorce until the kids are finished with college, there are times when child support beyond the initial cap is allowed by law. Here are examples of the factors that the courts will consider when setting the original cap and reviewing whether additional support is appropriate.

Starting With the Basics

Before a court will accept a proposal for child support, a thorough review of the income generated by each parent takes place. While there are guidelines in place that apply in most cases, the court will make exceptions based on the income of each party.

Much of the attention is focused on the financial situation of the non-custodial parent. That parent has the responsibility to provide resources that ensure the children have food, clothing, shelter, and other basics. In some cases, allowing for other means of support like providing medical insurance, paying into an interest bearing account to provide funds for college, and even carrying a life insurance policy on each child may be part of the consideration.

The non-custodial parent’s income and assigned responsibilities are not the only matter the court will address. The custodial parent is also charged with contributing to the care and support of the minor children. That means the court will taken into consideration the amount of income the custodial parent generates monthly, the cost of housing, utilities, and other essentials. In the best-case scenario, the combined efforts of both parents result in assuring the children have a stable and safe place to live along with the other basics of life.

How Determining the Cap and Possible Additional Support Can Become Complicated

Child support is a serious matter and there are laws in New York State that combine with more general federal laws to ensure minor children are provided for properly. Those laws do address methods for calculating equitable child support based on the combined income of the custodial and the non-custodial parent. Things can become more complex when the combined income exceeds an maximum amount currently allowed by law. As of 2017, the initial cap is over $143,000.

The evaluation begins by establishing the amount of gross rather than net income. In accordance with the Child Support Standard Act, the income figure used is typically the one found in the most recent set of income tax returns. After confirming the gross income, the court moves on to consider other potential income, whether it be voluntarily deferred or falls into the realm of what current laws define as additional income.

The cap may be augmented by several factors that apply to the specific situation of the former couple. For example, if there is a strong chance that one of the parents will shortly be earning higher gross annual income, the cap may be adjusted accordingly. If a third party is paying a portion of the custodial or non-custodial parent’s personal expenses, that will be taken into account. Even benefits associated with employment may be included in the calculation. This would mean if one of the parties receives use of a vehicle as one of the benefits of his or her job, the court will take that into consideration. All these examples are classified as what the court recognizes as imputed.

Imputed income must be supported by documentation that is confirmed and accepted by the court. If the documentation does not exist or it is considered suspect by the court, it will be rejected.

A Case Involving Support Beyond the Cap

The best way to understand how child support above and beyond the cap may be applicable or may be rejected is to review an actual case. Peddycoart Versus MacKay 145 A.D.3d 1081 (2d Dept. 2016) is a good example. In this case, the magistrate evaluating the support arrangement examined the income of the payor closely. The father was the non-custodial parent in this particular case. The payor’s federal income tax return confirmed the gross income from his work and from monthly income rentals received. Imputed income also came under scrutiny, based on reimbursements for personal expenses and the use of a vehicle that was provided by his employer. The final child support figure included the cap allowed in 2016 plus additional support based on the imputed income.

At a later time, a review of that decision confirmed that an error was made in the percentage related to the combined parental income. The error was not due to the factors the magistrate considered, but because of information that was not taken into consideration. Specifically, there were no allowances made for other types of support the non-custodial parent was providing for the child, or for the expenses the father incurred as the result of supporting a second minor child. When these additional factors were included, the result was a reduction in the total amount of child support provided for the child each week.

Specific Acts That Apply

In New York State, the Child Support Standards Act forms the basis for calculating child support. When the combined income of both parents exceeds the cap at the time of the divorce, the provisions within the New York Family Court Act and Domestic Relations Law provides the foundation for determining if additional support is permissible. In any case, the family court or the state’s Supreme Court must provide an explanation for that additional support that is in compliance with current laws.

Attempting to navigate through the specifics of a child support order can be difficult. Contact our team at Spodek Law Group by calling 888-729-7065 or request a consultation via our website (https://www.longislanddivorcelawyers.com/). Our lawyers will evaluate your case, provide advice on your options, and ensure your rights are protected in a court of law

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