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When Should All Income Be Considered in a New York Child Support Calculation?

Child support statutes in the State of New York stipulates that both parents are legally responsible for the financial support of children until the child reaches 21 years of age. The intent of these laws is to assure that children continue to benefit from the incomes and retain the standard of living provided by the combined efforts of both parents after a separation.

Child support in New York contains two components:

• Basic Support- This calculation is based on the combined income of both parents. The combined income is capped and then multiplied by the percentage that is based on the total number of children. This basic support is determined to cover the expenses of the custodial parent pertaining to housing, feeding, clothing, and other basic living provisions for the child. The non-custodial parent is responsible for making basic child support payments to the custodial parent.
• Add on expenses include expenses incurred in caring for children that are needed so that custodial parents are allowed to work. These expenses can include both medical expenses and insurance, as well as childcare expenses. A particular parents contribution to add-on expenses is proportionate to income. Add-on support can be paid from parent to parent or can be used to pay for services directly, for example, payment to a doctor for a bill for the child.

As mentioned above, for purposes of calculating basic support a total income cap has been put into place. This cap which is $143,000 for the year of 2016 is adjusted on a yearly basis.

When the combined income of parents exceeds the cap of $143,000, additional child support may be ordered it a certain set of factors known as ‘paragraph F’ factors are established. In these situations, the court can option to apply the original percentages based on the number of children to the income that exceeds the cap, or an adjustment can be specifically made to the add-on component based on specific factors to the case.

Factors that can be taken into consideration are:

• The financial resources of both parents
• The child’s health along with any special needs or abilities
• Consequences regarding taxes
• The parents’ educational needs
• The standard of living enjoyed by child when parents are together
• A disparity in gross income of parents
• The needs of additional children supported by non-custodial parents
• Any extraordinary expenses for child or parent
An example scenario as outlined by state statutes provides for custodial parents that incur child care expenses in order to facilitate the attendance of work or school, the court is allowed to make the determination expenses for childcare are to be prorated in identical proportion as individual parental income is to the combined income of the parents. This pro rata calculation of child care expenses are added to the basic component of child support and are to be stated separately and considered to be an add-on.

A case that provides some insight is Michael JD vs. Caroline EP. An appellate court assigned to this matter considered whether a lower court had acted properly in its instruction to a father to provide add-on support by way of tuition to a private school and extracurricular activities for weekends and summer. The court determined that state law outlines precisely the conditions necessary to precipitate the court’s determination that additional costs are to be paid above that which is considered basic child support.

It was determined by the appellate court that extracurricular activities for weekends and summer were leisure activities to be covered by basic child support. If wishing to deviate from standard procedure and require a parent to pay for these leisure activities, the lower court is required by law to conduct an analysis for the presence of paragraph F factors. The court is also required to explain this analysis and how it resulted in a procedural deviation.

The appellate court found that in the observed case, the parents were unmarried and not maintaining a home together when the child was born. The couple did live together for four months once the father was made aware of the child’s existence. The parents had expressed an expectation that their child would attend a private school. The mother and child left the residence with the father when the child was eight months of age. The mother explained through trial testimony that the father told her the child would attend private school and have enrolled the child in private swimming lessons. The mother also explained that once separating with the father the lessons ended.

The father’s income was determined to be $128,741. 40 and since the mother’s income was assumed to be zero, the father’s income is also the combined total income and 17% of this amount was calculated as the amount the father would contribute as basic child support payments. It was also determined by the trial court that the total cost of tuition for the child’s private school education be required as an add-on expense.

The appellate court decided that the trial court did not provide sufficient explanation as to why the father was ordered to pay for the child’s school tuition.

If you and a co-parent are participating in custody proceedings that involve a combined income that exceeds the income cap for basic child support, it may be a good idea to contact the Long Island Divorce Lawyers.