Child support is vital for children to achieve their maximum potential and be cared for properly in New York. When a couple divorces, one of the biggest divorce legal issues they will face often centers around child support. This is an issue rife with the potential for disputes and hard feelings. Every case is different and the circumstances of the parents can vary. For example, if it is a high-asset divorce, a low-asset divorce or anywhere in between, the amount that will be ordered will obviously differ. However, there are certain guidelines that the state will use when deciding how much will be paid. It is crucial to understand these rules.
There are percentages that the state uses to decide how much of the supporting parent’s income must be paid for child support. If the couple has one child, it is 17 percent. With two children, it is 25 percent. With three children, it is 29 percent. For those with four children, it is 31 percent. And people who have five or more children will need to pay 35 percent or more.
The way income is determined is also important. This goes beyond income that is reported to the Internal Revenue Service for tax purposes. The following will be assessed as income when the child support determination is made: how much the person earns in wages, dividends, interest, investments and more; if there is voluntarily deferred income or other compensation; workers’ compensation, disability payments, cash benefits and unemployment; a pension or retirement account; stipends; and annuities.
There are other assets which the judge might consider it to be income. If money or other benefits are provided by friends and relatives, it might be income. Some people receive fringe benefits, such as a per diem, a company car, lodging and memberships – these can be perceived as income. There is no limitation as to what the judge or support magistrate can use to determine income. Imputing income can be done separately from what is claimed as income and impact how much child support is paid.
For parents who are ending their marriage, child support can be a contentious issue that can be the foundation for long-term disagreements. Whether it is a contentious divorce or the couple is on relatively good terms, understanding the details of how child support is determined is crucial for both sides and understanding family law and divorce issues can help.