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Brooklyn Family Law, Blog

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October 20, 2014
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Child Support How Much Will I Have to Pay?

Child support How Much Will I Have to Pay?, Renata Weissman, Divorce LawyerChild support is calculated as a percentage of income by a specific formula within the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA). For ease, I will not give you the entire detailed formula for child support, but will give you a shortcut to approximate your child support obligation. Take your gross income and reduce it by your FICA and Medicare tax withholdings. Take the result of that calculation and apply the following percentage to determine child support, depending on the number of children you have, as follows: one child, 17%; two children, 25%; three children, 29%; four children, 31%; five or more children, no less than 35%.

This basic child support amount does not include your obligation for child care, medical expense or insurance, and sometimes educational expenses. These items are calculated on a different basis. Take your income and that of the other parent of the child and add them together. Determine what percentage of that total is yours and what percentage is that of the other parent. For example, if your combined income is $100,000 and your portion of it is $60,000, then your obligation on these additional items to child support is 60% of the total. Your obligation for uninsured medical expenses, child care, insurance premium and, under certain circumstances, educational expenses, would be 60% of each such expense. Again, this is in addition to your basic child support obligation. This method of calculation is what the full formula would entail for the calculation of basic child support as well. These add-ons to child support are often referred to as “peripherals.”

If you have child support order or orders for a child or children born prior to the child about whom you are asking this question, and you are paying on the order, then there will be a reduction of your available income by the amount of that child support order before applying the child support percentage calculation to it. This does not apply if you are voluntarily paying child support to someone and have no child support order. Also, this same principal applies if you are paying maintenance (spousal support/alimony) by Court order to anyone. Your income will be reduced by that payment before applying the child support percentage.

Just as with everything else, there are exceptions to every rule where this basic child support percentage will not be calculated according to the percentages above. If your income is at or below the poverty guidelines, $11,670 for 2014, the CSSA percentages do not apply. You should not be ordered to pay more than $25 per month for your child. If your income is at or below the self support reserve of $15,755 for 2014, your child support should be limited to $300 a year and you will not likely have to pay any of the peripherals. If payment of child support and/or peripherals will bring your income below the self-support reserve, then the numbers will change.

If you are at the other end of the equation, and the combined income of both parents is over $141,000, then it is in the discretion of the Court whether to apply the full percentage for basic child support to the entire income amount, or to apply a different percentage to the amounts over $141,000 for calculation of child support. That decision will depend on a number of factors that your attorney will put before the Court before the decision is made.

Child support How Much Will I Have to Pay?, Renata Weissman, Divorce LawyerThere are other situations where the child support amount can be up to the discretion of the Court. For example, if you and your child’s other parent have an equal sharing of time with your child, the Court may decide to reduce the full percentage payment for child support by the higher wage earner, but there is absolutely no guarantee that will happen.

If you are self employed, the child support percentages still apply, but the calculations to determine the income against which they will be applied are dependent upon your expenses. Just because you can claim an expense on your tax return does not mean that Family Court will also allow you to reduce your gross income using that same expense for child support purposes. You will be able to claim your self-employment tax as a reduction of your gross income for child support purposes, and many of your other business expenses, just not necessarily all of them.

If the custodial parent is alienating your child against you in a severe way and contact with your child is a problem as a result, there are ways to address that through the Court to suspend or end child support payments.

This hopefully gives you a general idea of how to calculate your approximate child support obligation in answer to the original question, but do remember that many factors go into the determination of child support by the Court which are too lengthy and detailed to discuss here.

Renata Weissman Brooklyn Family Law Practice/Divorce attorney is presently taking child support cases and are happy to discuss your situation with you. Please contact us with the Contact form on this page, or call our law practice at 855-736-2829.