How to calculate Child Support in New York

Child support is designed to ensure that parents have the resources needed to raise healthy, happy children. The Division of Child Support Enforcement is responsible for overseeing child support in New York. Custodial parents file a petition in family court in order to begin the process of collecting child support. If the child is on public assistance, the case is generally handled by the agency providing assistance.

How Long Is Child Support Paid?

In New York, child support orders are generally meant to be paid until the child turns 21. If the child is physically disabled, the court may order the noncustodial parent to continue paying support after the child turns 21. This happens in limited cases, and the specific details about such support are often included in a divorce decree.

If a child is emancipated, joins the military, gets married or otherwise becomes financially self-sufficient, then payments may be terminated before the child turns 21.

How Is Child Support Calculated in New York?

Child support payments in New York are calculated using a straightforward formula. In general, noncustodial parents are responsible for paying a percentage of both parents' combined gross incomes for the year. A parent's income can include pensions, fellowships, annuity payments, workers' compensation benefits, unemployment, Social Security and retirement benefits, along with some other earnings.

Certain costs, such as Social Security and Medicare taxes, New York City or borough taxes, and other child or spousal support amounts currently being paid, are subtracted from a parent's gross income before calculation. The resulting amount is added to the other parent's income.

Once the parents' combined income is determined, the amount is multiplied by a percentage. The percentage changes based upon how many children a parent is ordered to support. Of course, it is important to remember that family law administrators do have the discretion to order support that is greater or lesser than the standard amount.

In most situations, the percentages are as follows:

  • 17 percent for one child
  • 25 percent for two children
  • 29 percent for three children
  • 31 percent for four children
  • At least 35 percent for five children

Once this amount is calculated, the amount is split between the two parents. The percentage that one parent contributes to the total combined income is the same percentage of the child support payment they are responsible for. For example, if one parent contributes 40 percent of the total combined income per year, they are responsible for 40 percent of the costs of raising the child. The parent with physical custody of the child is presumed to be contributing this amount already.

Noncustodial parents whose incomes fall below the federal poverty line are generally ordered to pay $25 a month in child support. Parents whose incomes fall below the New York State Self-Support Reserve generally pay $50 a month in child support.

In addition to ordering the noncustodial parent to pay child support, the court can also order either parent to provide medical insurance for the child. A medical support order is generally issued by the court when an insurance plan is available for the child at a reasonable cost.

A judge can also order noncustodial parents to cover other expenses related to their children. The court can order a parent to pay:

  • A portion of the child care expenses that a custodial parent pays in order to go to work or school
  • Medical expenses that are not covered by insurance
  • Part of a child's educational costs

Modification of Child Support Orders

Child support orders are rarely set in stone. If one parent's income changes significantly after an order has been issued, then that parent can ask the court for a readjustment. This often happens when a noncustodial parent loses a job. A parent filing an application for a modification must do so with the same court that issued the initial child support order.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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