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How Is Child Support Calculated In New York?

Child support is very different than spousal support — whereas the amount and length of spousal support (or, alimony) payments are largely a matter of judicial discretion, the amount and length of child support payments is nearly always determined by a mathematical formula. Different states have different child support philosophies and use different models in assessing child support payments, such as:

  • The income shares model takes into account the income of both parents, under the theory that the child should share in the standard of living enjoyed by both parents.
  • A percentage-of-income model considers only the noncustodial parent’s income, using either a flat percentage or a variable percentage.
  • Delaware, Hawaii and Montana use the Melson Formula, which is a more complicated version of the income shares model that includes certain public policy considerations.

Child support in New York

New York State, including Queens, New York, Nassau and Bronx Counties, uses a variable percentage-of-income model. The calculation process goes through several steps, such as:

  • The obligor’s income is calculated, and certain deductions — such as taxes and union dues — are allowable deductions from gross income, while others — such as insurance premiums and 401k contributions — are not considered. The obligor is the parent who is required to make support payments.
  • The obligor pays a certain percentage for each child, generally 17 percentage for one child, 22 percent for two children, 29 percent for three children and so on.
  • If the child support obligation causes the obligor’s net income to fall below the reserve amount, child support payments may be adjusted to a lower amount. Your child support attorney may introduce evidence on your behalf in any hearing to reduce the child support obligation. Such evidence commonly includes other sources of income that are either available or unavailable to the obligor.

Special rules may apply for obligors who earn more than $136,000 per year or who have more than five children to support. For a consultation with an attorney who understands all the mechanics of family law in New York, contact our office.

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