New York Child Support Guideline Amounts Only Apply to Parental Income Up to a Certain Amount

beachNew York child support law establishes guidelines that base the amount of a child support obligation on a percentage of the parents’ combined income. The percentage used in this calculation depends on the number of children who are to be the beneficiaries of the support. The guidelines only apply, however, to the parents’ combined income up to a certain amount. The state is required to adjust this statutory cap every two years, beginning in 2016, based on changes in the consumer price index. New York courts have held that, in order to apply the guideline percentages to income above this upper limit, a court must make specific findings regarding a child’s need for additional support. A New York appellate court addressed this issue last year in a divorce case, Antinora v. Antinora.

New York’s Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) created general guidelines for calculating child support, found in § 240(1-b) of the New York Domestic Relations Law. For one child, the guideline amount of child support is 17 percent of the combined parental income (CPI). This amount is then prorated based on each parent’s share of CPI. Typically, the noncustodial parent will then be obligated to pay their prorated amount to the custodial parent as child support. The percentage increases for each child up to five children. The minimum guideline percentage for five or more children is 35 percent. Courts may set child support in different amounts based on various factors, but the CSSA provides a standard to apply to all cases.

The Domestic Relations Law states that the guideline percentages only apply to CPI up to a certain amount, which is determined by the state based on standards set forth in § 111-I of the Social Services Law. As of April 1, 2016, the CPI amount is $143,000. A court cannot apply the guideline percentages to CPI above that amount without making specific findings regarding certain factors.

The Domestic Relations Law lists these factors in § 240(1-b)(f). They include factors affecting the parents, such as each parent’s available financial resources, either parent’s educational expenses, non-monetary contributions by either parent toward raising the child, and tax consequences arising from the establishment of child support. They also include factors affecting the child, such as the child’s available financial resources, the child’s standard of living had the parents not separated, and the child’s health and medical needs.

The parties in Antinora each appealed different parts of a referee’s order in their divorce case. The husband/defendant claimed that the court erred by applying the guideline percentage to an amount of CPI that exceeded the statutory maximum, without making specific findings regarding the factors listed in § 240(1-b)(f). The court agreed with the husband on this issue. It cited a 2005 decision, Matter of Malecki v Fernandez, which held that this sort of child support order “renders meaningless the statutory provision setting a cap on strict application of the formula.” The court vacated the entire child support order and remitted the case for further proceedings.

Ingrid Gherman, a New York City child support lawyer, has helped clients deal with difficult and complicated matters involving child support, custody, and visitation for the past 30 years. Contact us online or at (212) 941-0767 today to schedule a confidential consultation to see how we can assist you.

More Blog Posts:

Federal Court Dismisses Civil Rights Claim in New York Child Support Case, New York Divorce Attorney Blog, May 16, 2016

New York Child Support Obligor Appeals Finding of “Willful” Violation of Order, New York Divorce Attorney Blog, May 4, 2016

Possible Consequences of Failing to Pay Child Support in a New York Family Law Case, New York Divorce Attorney Blog, February 23, 2016

Photo credit: Andy Beecroft [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.