Child support is not a one-sided obligation placed upon a single parent, but rather an evaluation of the means and responsibilities of both parents and the needs and best interest of the child. Gadalinska v. Ahmed, 120 A.D.3d 1232, 992 N.Y.S.2d 115 (2nd Dept., September 2014)
It is the responsibility of the parent deemed to be the non-custodial parent to pay basic child support to the primary custodial parent. Such payments are made in anticipation of the costs expended for such basic needs as food, clothing and shelter.
Article 4 of the Family Court Act, also referred to as the Child Support Standards Act, sets forth a three-part process for determining the presumptively correct amount of a non-custodial parent’s basic child support obligation in New York State. First, the court determines the parties' total combined adjusted gross income, which is generally the gross income of each of the parties as reported in the most recently filed federal income tax return, less FICA. Once the combined adjusted gross income of the parties is established, the Court will multiply that amount, up to the $ 141,000.00 statutory cap, by the appropriate child support percentage (one child: 17%; two children 25%; three children 29%; four children 31%; and no less than 35% of the combined parental income for five or more children); and will pro rate that amount to determine each party’s child support obligation, in the same proportion that each parent's income bears to the sum of their incomes.
With respect to combined parental income exceeding the statutory cap, the court has the discretion to apply the statutory child support percentage, or not, based upon specific statutory factors, or to utilize some combination of the two.
There are also what we call administrative add-ons which include unreimbursed medical expenses, child care costs and expenditures associated with the provision of health insurance coverage. Each parties' responsibility for these costs is typically prorated in the same proportion that each parent's income bears to the combined parental income and shall be in addition to basic child support obligation.
There are occasions when a parties’ adjusted gross income is not easily discernible, such as matters involving self employment, cash businesses/enterprises along with various other circumstances. In those cases, it is vital to have an attorney who can discern the concealment of income, what are and what are not legitimate business expenses and how to argue for and against the imputation of income. Savy divorce counsel can and should gather the necessary information to convince the Court to make the correct determination in accordance with the relevant parties' earning capacity. The Court also may, as a matter of discretion, add values attributable to non-income producing assets; employment expense payments for meals, lodging, memberships, company cars or other fringe benefits.