Child Support

CSSA– Child Support in New York State is governed by the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) and is found in two statutes: Domestic Relations Law 240 Section 1-b and Family Court Act 413.

  • In order to determine the appropriate amount of Child Support, the CSSA requires that the income of both parties be legally established including any additional income outside of the party’s primary occupation (i.e., workers’ compensation, disability benefits, social security benefits, pensions and retirement benefits, annuity payments, etc.). In this step, the Court may also determine that a parent has reduced their income in order to avoid child support obligations. In this case, the Court may impute additional income to the respective parent based upon that parent’s former resources or income.
  • When the total income is determined, the CSSA requires that the following deductions are made, pursuant to DRL §240 1-b(b)(5)(vii):
    • Certain unreimbursed employee business expenses
    • Maintenance paid to a spouse not a party to the current action for child support but only if there is a court order or properly written agreement
    • Maintenance paid to a spouse who is a party to the current action, but only if there is an existing order or a properly written agreement.
    • Child support paid pursuant to a court order or properly written agreement to a child who is not part of the pending action
    • Public Assistance
    • Supplemental  security income
    • New York City or Yonkers income or earnings taxes actually paid
    • Federal insurance contributions act (FICA) taxes.
  • After the appropriate deductions are made, the CSSA calculates Child Support in the following manner:
    • For the combined income of both parents under $130,000:
      • DRL 240 1-b(c)(2) provides that child support be based on applying the statutory percentages based on the number of children pursuant to DRL 240 1-b(b)(3). The result will be the total combined basic child support attributable to both parents for the first $130,000 of combined income:
          • One child: 17%
          • Two children: 25%
          • Three children: 29%
          • Four children: 31%
          • Five children: no less than 35%

  • For the combined income of both parents over $130,000:
  • DRL 240 1-b(c)(3) provides that child support shall be calculated using either the factors listed in DRL 240 1-b(f)  or the percentages under DRL 240 1-b(b)(3). The court does not have to state the factors of DRL 240 1-b(f) in order to apply those percentages to a case where the combined parental income is over $130,000. The court must only articulate a reason why it is doing so.
    • From the above calculated basic child support, each parent’s share is prorated in the same proportion as each parent’s income is to the combined parental income.
  • Pro rata ad-ons to basic child support are also available in some cases:
    • Day Care- As provided by DRL 240 1-b(c)(4) and DRL 240 1-b(c)(6), when a custodial parent is working, seeking work, or is in school or training which will lead to employment, reasonable day care expenses will be allocated in a ration equal to each parent’s income to the combined income.
    • Health Care Expenses- DRL 240 1(d) provides that the cost of health care insurance shall be allocated in the same proportion as each parent’s income is to the combined parental income.  DRL 240 1-b(c)(5) provides that reasonable health care expenses not covered by insurance are allocated in the same proportion as each parent’s income is to the combined parental income.
    • College and Education
  • In addition to basic child support, the court may award educational expenses pursuant to DRL 240 1-b(c)(7) in a manner determined by the court as to the best interests of the child. In determining whether or not to make this award, the court may consider traditional factors which were used prior to the enactment of DRL 240 1-b(c)(7) such as the educational background of the parents, the history of the parents in paying educational expenses to the subject child or other children them may have, academic qualifications of the child, and the financial circumstances of the parents.
  • While college expenses are over and above basic child support, the courts have held that when a non-custodial parent is paying for room and board while the child is away at school, they should receive a reduction from child support. This credit may also apply regardless of if the child is living on or off campus while away at school.
  • College expenses will generally not be awarded before it is determined that the child is actually going to college.
  • Retroactive Child Support
    • Under DRL 240 1(i), an award of final child support is retroactive to the date that it was first requested. This date is the date of service of the summons and complaint containing the demand for child support.
    • Similarly, a request for pendent lite child support is retroactive is retroactive to the date of the motion. In calculating any retroactive child support, any payments made under a pendent lite order will be credited in determining the total retroactive amount. Should the payments under the pendent lite order exceed the total due under the final order, then no credits exist for the payor.