We all want what is best for our children. We hope to give them the world, and in a perfect scenario, we would. The realities of divorce, however, can often leave us with anxiety. Although we want to support our children, we become worried about what will happen in a child support settlement. Will there be enough left for us? Will we be supporting everyone in the home, including our former spouse? Fortunately, in most cases, the answer is “no.”
New York uses a specific percentage calculation for child support. It takes the incomes of both parents into account. Fortunately, this means that even if you were the primary breadwinner in the home, child support should not send you to the poor house. You will probably spend a similar amount on the children that you already did.
When determining child support, the court totals the gross income of both parents. From there, it assumes a percentage of income that goes towards the children. This percent rises based on the number of kids in the home.
For parents’ combined incomes, New York allots the following percentages for children:
- For one child, 17%
- For two children, 25%
- For three children, 29%
- For four children, 31%
- For five or more children, no less than 35%, meaning it could go higher
Let’s look at this system in action. Jim and Sarah have a combined yearly income of $100,000. Sarah makes $65,000, or 65% of the total. Jim makes $55,000, which is 55%. They have two children, for which 25% of the total income must be allotted. Child support will cost a total of $25,000 per year. Jim is responsible for 55% of that total, $13,750. Sarah is responsible for 65%, $16,250.
From here, the court considers who has full-time custody. Jim will be the custodial parent. The court assumes that the custodial parent will use their portion of child support on the children. It doesn’t usually order them a direct, monthly fee. Therefore, Sarah, the non-custodial parent, can expect to pay about $1,355 per month in child support, covering her total of $16,250.
The state has a cutoff point. The above percentages apply to any couple with a combined income of $154,000 or less. If the combined income is more than that, the court can just apply the formula as normal for the first $154,000 of income. They could order a higher percentage based on specific factors including the health of the child, any other children the payer is supporting, tax consequences, the child’s emotional state, etc.
What If I Can’t Pay?
As outlined above, this is not traditionally a problem. If everyone did their calculations appropriately, you should be able to pay your share.
Unfortunately, life can change your circumstances. For the first three years after a child support agreement, you are expected to pay what you were ordered. Even in that short time, however, incomes could change drastically. If you have sustained an ongoing, permanent change in income, you can request a child support modification.
There are standards for which you must qualify, but in general, you must be making at least 15% less than you were before. The court will evaluate your situation. If you were fired for poor performance or voluntarily chose a lower-paying job, they might not allow a modification.
The good news is, this 15% also applies to the person you are paying. They might have changed jobs or received a considerable promotion, raising their income by over 15%. When this is the case, you can request a modification, arguing that the percentage split is no longer fair.
If you have concerns over child support or need help with a modification, call us for a free consultation. Our number is (347) 378-1170, and you can fill out an online contact form here.