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

In New York State, there are two components to child support: a basic one and an added one.

The basic component of child support is calculated by looking at the cap of the parents’ combined annual income (this cap changes every two years). The term “income” applies to the gross total income, plus benefits (unemployment or retirement benefits for example) and investment income. Once the parents’ incomes have been added, the total is multiplied by a percentage. This percentage is based on the number of children involved, and it ranges from 17% to 35%, with a higher percentage for more children. The parent who does not have custody pays a percentage of this amount to the custodial parent. If the combined income is higher than the cap, the court will decide if there should be more support for the income that goes beyond the cap.

If you’re the custodial parent and your combined income surpasses the cap, it’s possible that you can get extra child support if specific factors are established, called “Paragraph F” factors. If these factors are proven, the court may either continue with their regular formula of 17% or more, or they may adjust how much will be added on to the child support.

Paragraph F factors may include:

• Financial resources of both parents
• The standard of living of the child if the parents did not separate
• The child’s health
• Wide gap between one parent’s earnings and the other’s earnings
• The child’s aptitude or special needs (for example, learning disabilities)
• Tax issues
• The needs of children that the non-custodial parent is supporting
• Educational needs of the parents
• International travel expenses

An example of this is as follows: if the custodial parent is going to school, they may have to pay for child care expenses to take care of the child while the parent is in class. The court would determine what a reasonable amount is to pay for child care. This amount would then be prorated based on how much each parent contributes to the shared income total. Then, how the parents will share these child care expenses will be added on to the child support agreement.

Sometimes, a court will have to decide which additional costs should be part of the child support agreement. For example, if the custodial parent decides to send their child to private school, signs them up for extracurricular activities and then sends them to camp during the summer, the court will determine if there should be an add-on to the child support agreement, and if so, how much that should be.

Typically, add-ons are granted for things like child care if the custodial parent has to work or attend school; if there are medical expenses or health insurance that has to be paid for; or if there are educational expenses. Additional expenses, such as extracurricular activities or activities the child engages in on the weekends or during the summer, are not usually added on to the support agreement. These are considered leisure expenses, and it’s presumed that they can be taken out of the current child support amount.

Example

Two parents who are not married and who are not living together have a son, though the father does not know about the pregnancy or the son at first. When the father learns he has a child, the couple decided to live together, and the arrangement lasts for just a few months. During this time, they discussed sending their child to private school. When the child was just a few months old, the mother decided to move her and the child out of the father’s home. The mother opted to send the child to private school, like she’d discussed with the father.

During a child support hearing, the mother said that the father was the one who wanted the child to go to private school. She also said that the child had been enrolled in swim lessons, but that these lessons ceased when the parents separated.

The court determined that the father’s income was below the cap. The mother said that the father had additional income that he didn’t disclose, but when the court tried to find this income, they couldn’t. Since the mother did not have any income, the combined income was only the father’s. Since there was one child, the amount of child support was set at 17% of the father’s income, which would be paid to the mother.

Additionally, the court required that the father pay for 100% of the child’s tuition at the private school, which became and add-on expense to the child support agreement. However, the trial court didn’t clarify why the father would have to pay for private school, especially when he didn’t have a high enough income level to pay for child support and the entire tuition. This was a deviation from the norm, and it should have been explained to the parents.

Child Support Help

Child support issues can be lengthy, difficult to understand and life-altering. If you feel that you should be receiving more child support, or if you think that you’re unfairly paying too much, contact our Long Island divorce lawyers today. We’ll help you understand child support and find the best way for you to proceed with negotiations.