When it comes to receiving support from a former spouse, there are two main types of support that New York courts can grant. Child support concerns payments submitted from the non-custodial parent to the parent with whom the child lives for the purpose of providing for the child’s welfare. Spousal support involves money paid by one spouse to the other for the purpose of supplementing that spouse’s income, where the divorce affected that individual’s standard of living.
Setting Up Child Support in NYC
Due to the Child Support Standard Act (CSSA), stipulations regulating how child support payments are calculated are uniform across the state of New York. Because this is a complex system of calculations and laws, it’s important to seek out the aid of a family court lawyer, whether you’re the spouse seeking support for the child or you’re the non-custodial parent.
In determining the payment of child support, the courts look at the income of both parents, as well as how the child’s standard of living has been affected by the break-up of the marriage. Additionally, if the child has any medical conditions or special developmental needs, the cost of that care will also be considered. The child support payments may be adjusted as time goes on due to cost of living increases or factors directly related to the care of the child.
Once the income for both parents has been determined, there may be some deductions allowed that will adjust the total income for each of them. For example, if one spouse is already under a court order to pay spousal or child support to a spouse from a previous marriage, that payment will be deducted. Additionally, city, social security, and Medicare taxes will also be allowed deductibles. Public assistance and SSI payments are typically not counted as income for the purposes of determining support payments.
Next, the total income is multiplied by a predetermined percentage, which is based upon the number of children in the family.
The resulting sum is then divided by two and this is the amount both parents will be expected to contribute to raising the child or children. Support payments must continue until the children reach 21 years of age or become emancipated. A child may be considered emancipated if he or she has completed four years of higher education, is married, lives away from home, joins the military, is 17 or older and works full-time in a long-term position, or has acted to willingly end the parent/child relationship.
A Deeper Look at Spousal Support
Formerly called alimony, spousal support in New York is similar to child support in that it relies on an established mathematical formula, though it’s paid to a spouse and not intended to help care for a child. There is also spousal maintenance, which is ordered to be paid while the couple is still married and while a divorce action is pending. In both circumstances, the support is intended to help a spouse who earns less money to maintain the same standard of living that the marriage provided.
Much like child support, the amount of the payments can be adjusted for various reasons. Increases in the cost of living rate can be one factor in altering the support agreement. To change the payments, you must submit a petition to the court, so it’s best to enlist the help of an experienced family law attorney. It may be even more difficult to obtain an increase, where both parties signed a support agreement, as the agreement is considered a binding contract by the court.
It’s important to realize that support is not indefinite and the judge will usually set the limit for how long payments will continue. Again, the court will follow the established formula, unless mitigating factors compel the court to modify the term. For marriages that lasted 15 years or less, support payments must be paid for 15% to 30% of the length of the marriage. Payments must be maintained for 30% to 40% the length of the marriage, if the couple was married for 15-20 years. Where the marriage lasted more than 20 years, spousal support must last for 35% to 50% of the length of the marriage.
Concerning both child and spousal support, there are many more complexities that can affect payment amounts and terms. For this reason, enlisting a legal advocate with family law experience is vital for all parties. Protecting your own rights and ensuring the children are supported are matters that are too important to be left to chance.
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