New York Child Support: What Every Divorcing Parent Needs to Know

All parents are obliged to provide for their children’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical and educational costs, and health insurance. When they divorce, child support is the way that the non-custodial parent continues to honor that obligation.

The CSSA Formula

New York’s Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) uses a formula to calculate each parent’s financial obligation to support the children. It applies to combined income above the poverty line and up to $143,000. Using the formula, each parent’s share of the combined gross household income is assigned a percentage, and that percentage is used to determine who pays how much. The calculation takes into account employment income, government benefits such as disability, rental income, and even cash gifts and lottery winnings.

The law states that a basic child support amount be set at a fixed percentage of combined parental income, with the exact percentage depending on the number of children requiring support. For one child, the amount is 17%. Other percentages are:

  • 25% for two children
  • 29% for three children
  • 31% for four children
  • At least 35% for five or more children

For higher-income parents who exceed the $143,000 threshold, the court may use the percentages established by the CSSA, which usually results in a larger percentage of income being ordered in child support. This is based on the assumption of higher discretionary income. Alternatively, the court may consider factors like the parent’s financial means and additional needs of the child to arrive at a support order it deems fair.

Your Ex Is Under-Reporting Income

If you’re convinced that your ex makes a lot more money than he or she is reporting, the court can investigate further. A judge has the authority to impute income to parents who are unemployed or appear to be reporting less money than they are actually making. Income imputation is commonly used when a parent appears to be remaining underemployed or even unemployed to avoid paying child support.

Your Ex Won’t Pay

Just because a parent refuses to pay child support doesn’t mean it can’t be collected. The Child Support Enforcement Unit can garnish wages, claim a portion of unemployment benefits or a tax refund, and in extreme cases, seize the contents of a non-payor’s bank accounts. The parent could even lose their driver’s license and go to jail for refusing to obey a court order.

Child support can be a complicated matter. At the Law Office of Richard Roman Shum, we can assist you in determining what you owe or can expect to receive, but if there are special circumstances or your ex is being deceptive about income, you want a diligent and determined attorney in your corner. We will help you get the support your children need or ensure that the amount you are being asked to pay is fair. For more information or to schedule a confidential consultation, contact us today.

Richard Shum