New York State requires a non-custodial parent to help with child rearing costs during, and after, a divorce or child custody action. This is known as child support. Child support is intended to help cover a child’s basic needs, as well as different “add-ons” that will vary on a case by case basis.
How is Child Support Calculated?
In September 1989, New York State enacted the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA), which governs how basic child support is determined. The CSSA calculates a child support obligation by adding each parent’s gross income, then multiplies the sum by the percentages below:
- For one child: 17% of the combined parental income
- For two children: 25% of the combined parental income
- For three children: 29% of the combined parental income
- For four children: 31% of the combined parental income
- For five or more children: No less than 35% of the combined parental income
Parties to a divorce or child custody and support case can elect to waive the CSSA’s calculation, but only if the needs of the child are being taken care of. Additionally, either party can petition the court for a modification of support after an order has been made if there has been a significant change in circumstances.
What is covered with Child Support?
Child support was created to help provide for a child’s basic needs, such as food, housing, and clothing. However, raising a child means parents will have a host of other expenses, and a non-custodial parent will be required to assist the custodial parent in covering these costs. Extra expenses, also known as add-ons, can include:
- Private school tuition and other education expenses
- Child care (daycare, after school programs, etc.)
- Extracurricular activities (sports, music lessons, etc.)
- Health insurance and other medical expenses
- Travel related expenses for visits with non-custodial parent
- Summer camp or vacation
As stated previously, child support add-ons vary on a case by case basis. In most (but not all) instances, add-on expense obligations are to be paid on a pro-rate basis, relative to each parent’s income. This means that if the non-custodial parent earns 40% of the parties’ combined income, then he or she will be responsible for 40% of the add-on expenses.
Necessity vs. Luxury
Most parents are employed fulltime, which makes childcare difficult during the summer months. To remedy this, children are often enrolled in summer camp programs. Depending on the child’s age, camp programs may be considered a necessity or a luxury.
If a child is still young enough to require constant child care throughout the day, a summer camp program will be deemed necessary. Since custody and support orders outline how parents are to pay for child care, the same stipulations can be applied to the costs of summer camp. Given their age, younger children will typically attend day camps at local youth centers or YMCA locations, and not overnight camp.
When summer camp is for recreational purposes as opposed to child care, it is considered to be a luxury or discretionary expense. The non-custodial parent might not have to pay a share of the costs associated with camp, but stipulations for this vary. Some parents choose to treat recreational summer camp as an extracurricular expense, and thus, fees will be split. Others reserve the right to waive their share of payment if their ex decides to enroll a child in camp on their own.
Summer Vacation and Support Payments
Non-custodial parents should continue to make court ordered child support payments throughout the summer months, even if the child has extended visitation with them while on a break from school. Courts typically do not favor suspended child support payments.
That being said, if both parties can agree on a reasonable way to lower (or suspend) child support payments during the non-custodial parent’s extended visitation time, then a judge may grant their request. Parents who wish to modify the standard child support order will benefit from retaining experienced counsel to handle the matter.
Failing to make court ordered child support payments can have disastrous ramifications for the non-custodial parent. In severe cases, the parent can be found in contempt, have their wages garnished, or even be sentenced to jail time.
NYC Child Support Resources
New York City offers many legal resources for parents who are facing divorce, child custody, or child support matters. The court system can be confusing, and it is always recommended parties meet with a qualified attorney prior to initiating an action. For more information on New York divorce, and how it can impact your family, contact Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. today!