How is child support calculated in New York?

Child support in New York is calculated pursuant to the Child Support Standards Act ("CSSA") (Domestic Relations Law §240(1-b) and Family Court Act § 413(1)(b)).

To simplify, CSSA provides that unless the court finds that the non-custodial parent's pro rata share of the "basic child support obligation" to be unjust or inappropriate after considering the ten enumerated factors, it must order the non-custodial parent to pay his or her pro rata share of the "basic child support obligation".

The "basic child support obligation" is calculated by multiplying the "combined parental income" by the appropriate "child support percentage. Income" is defined as "gross income as was or should have been reported on the most recent federal income tax return" less deductions for, inter alia, social security and New York City and Yonkers income taxes.

The "child support percentage" is fixed at:

a)17% of the combined parental income for one child;
b)25% of the combined parental income for two children;
c)29% of the combined parental income for three children;
d)31% of the combined parental income for four children; and
e)no less than 35% of the combined parental income for five or more children.

Where the combined parental income exceeds $80,000 per year, the court has discretion to depart from the child support percentages as to those portions of income in excess of $80,000.00.

So, what does this really mean? Let's suppose, a mother, with an income of $30,000 after social security and New York City taxes , is the custodial parent of two children. The Father’s income is $50,000 after social security and New York City taxes

The couple’s combined annual income is $80,000. Since there are two children, the applicable guideline percentage is 25% or $20,000 per year.  The father’s share of the child support payment is 5/8 of $20,000 or $12,500 per year or $1,042 per month.

Where the combined parental income exceeds $80,000 per year, the court has discretion to depart from the child support percentages as to those portions of income in excess of $80,000.00.

In addition to ordering the payment of child support, the Court can order the non-custodial parent to pay his\her pro rata share of the children's un-reimbursed health care expenses, the child care expenses when the custodial parent is working or attending school, the children’s educational expenses, as well as the costs of extra-curricular activities.

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