If you want to know how much you will have to pay for child support or how much you will receive in child support, the first step is looking to the New York Child Support Standards Act (CSSA). The CSSA determines how much child support must be paid and to whom it must be paid.
You must first determine whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent. Generally, the custodial parent is the parent that has physical custody of the children the majority of the time. For example, if a father has visitation with the children every other weekend and one night during the week and the mother has custody of the children the remainder of the time, the mother will be considered the custodial parent and the father will be considered the non-custodial parent. If the parents have equal physical custody of the children, the parent with the larger income is deemed the non-custodial parent and he or she will most likely have to pay child support to the custodial parent.
For more information on custody terminology, please click here:
Once you know whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent, the CSSA guidelines require you to determine the “adjusted” gross income of both parents. Adjusted gross income is determined by taking your gross income and subtracting certain deductions. For purposes of the CSSA, gross income is the total of income that is reported on your most recent federal income tax return, investment income, voluntarily deferred income such as pensions and retirement benefits, imputed income, which includes resources available to you such as fringe benefits and money or goods provided to you by relatives or friends, and any self-employment deductions you take.
Then, you take your gross income and subtract the necessary deductions. Deductions include certain unreimbursed employee business expenses, maintenance you pay to a spouse that is or is not a party to the action, child support you pay for another child not a party to the action, public assistance, supplemental security income, city taxes, and Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes that you’ve paid.
After obtaining the adjusted gross income of both parents, you are ready to calculate the non-custodial parent’s basic child support obligation. New York State periodically publishes a Child Support Standards Chart, which can be used to determine an approximate annual child support obligation. This most recent chart for 2011 can be found here:
If you have any questions on how to determine the approximate annual child support obligation in your case, please contact Danziger and Mangold and ask to set up a confidential consultation with one of our attorneys.
It should be noted that the CSSA is mandatory only up to the first $130,000 in combined parental income. The application of the CSSA for income over this amount is a more complicated subject and is not addressed in this article. It should also be noted that a parent’s total child support is not limited to his or her “Basic Child Support Obligation”. In addition to the “Basic Child Support Obligation,” which is commonly paid on a weekly or monthly basis, the non-custodial parent is also obligated to pay his or her share of childcare and medical expenses in proportion to his or her percentage of both of the parent’s total income. Moreover, educational expenses such as college expenses may be awarded by a court.
Note that in general the courts will stick to the CSSA guidelines. However, if the parties agree otherwise or the Court feels an application of the CSSA guidelines would be unjust in a certain case, a deviation from the CSSA guidelines is allowed.