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Financial disputes are fairly common in most marriages that are winding down. It should come as no surprise that when couples divorce, two of the biggest issues end up being the payment of alimony and child support. When child support is at issue, the parent who ends up with primary custody worries about how much he or she will receive to take care of their children and himself or herself, and the parent without primary custody is concerned about the amount he or she will end up paying overall.

In New York, child support and maintenance may be determined by reference to various formulas enshrined in the law. These formulas apply only up to certain income amounts, which go up every year to account for the rise in cost of living. The State of New York revises the income guidelines that dictate the child support and spousal maintenance caps on an annual basis, with the most recent revision occurring in January of 2020. Now, the child support formula applies up to combined incomes of $154,000.

This means that the amount a custodial parent will be entitled to receive for child support will be limited to a percentage of your combined income up to $154,000, and with a few caveats explained below. If you and your spouse have a combined income of up to $154,000, the following will be used to determine the presumptive child support obligation:

One Child17%
Two Children25%
Three Children29%
Four Children31%
Five + ChildrenAt least 35%

One Child

This means if you have a combined income of $100,00 and have 2 children, the number used to calculate annual child support will be $25,000, which will then be apportioned between the parents based on their incomes. If one spouse earns $70,000, and the other $30,000, the spouse earning the higher income is responsible for 70% of $25,000, or $17,500. Remember, though, that the noncustodial parent always pays the custodial parent, even if the noncustodial parent makes less money than the custodial parent.

Understand as well that this formula is only “presumptively” correct. A court is allowed to deviate from it, given factual circumstances and the needs of a child. If combined income is above $154,000, the court may apply the formula to income up to that “cap,” and determine what additional child support is necessary or appropriate to account for income over the cap.

Maintenance support awards

The current initial cap for to calculate a maintenance award on the paying spouse’s income is $192,000. General maintenance support calculations are based upon whether or not the payor spouse will also pay child support. The payor spouse will always be the one with the higher income.

If the payor spouse will pay child support and is the non-custodial parent, the following calculation applies: Payor’s income (multiplied by 20%) – Payees’s income (multiplied by 25%) = Support payment

For example, if the payor spouse earns $100,000 and payee spouse earns $50,000, the maintenance support payment would be $7,500 a year. Again, this is separate from the child support amount the payee spouse will also receive.

If the payor spouse does not pay child support or is the custodial parent, the following calculation applies: Payor’s income (multiplied by 30%) – Payees’s income (multiplied by 20%) = Support payment

Using the same figures above, the maintenance support payment would be $20,000 per year.

Just as in child support, these formulas are guidelines and not set in stone – courts have the ability to deviate based on the facts of a case, including the specific needs of a recipient spouse.

If the spouse’s income exceeds $192,000, the Court has the authority to award a higher maintenance amount after considering factors that allow a deviation for temporary maintenance. Some of the factors considered include:

  • Present or future earning capacity
  • Wasteful dissipation of marital property
  • Availability and cost of medical insurance
  • Standard of living established during the marriage

For current New York State child support and spousal maintenance calculators, visit NYCOURTS.gov.

It is important to understand the financial implications if you are considering divorce. Having the ability to plan ahead can help reduce the financial and emotional stress of ending your marriage. Our knowledgeable attorneys at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP will be able to educate and guide you through all of your options related to the financial aspects of divorce. Schedule a consultation with one of our financially savvy attorneys by calling 212-867-9123 or reaching out to us through our contact form today. We maintain offices in Manhattan, White Plains, and Hackensack, NJ.

 

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