Does The Parenting Plan Arrangement Affect The Child Support Amount?
Yes, the parenting plan can affect the amount of child support. This is especially true if the parties have an exact 50/50 split, but even without an exact split it could still affect the amount of support if the non-custodial parent has joint custody and significant access time.
The typical non-custodial parent has alternate weekends and a split of holidays. If the non-custodial parent also has a day or two during the week and perhaps half of summer or close to it, then he or she is going to be seeing the child a lot more than the average non-custodial parent. I’ve been successful in arguing in some cases that the non-custodial parent should get a break on the guidelines for child support in that instance.
Of course it’s case specific, because you could have a high income situation in which the other side is waiving maintenance or waiving a share of assets. If that’s the case then perhaps the full guidelines for child support should be directed even if the non-custodial parent in that scenario has more than the average access time with a child or children. There’s no set formula in a situation like that. It’s all subject to negotiation, and ultimately if the parties can’t settle, then it’s up to the discretion of the Judge to determine the proper amount.
Are There Any Special Issues To Be Considered In Child Support Under New York State Law?
A lot of people do not realize that in New York child support continues until 21. In a lot of other states child support gets cut off at age 18.
A lot of parents also do not realize that because New York continues child support through the age of 21, so that also generally includes the costs of college. I have had many non-custodial parents come in for a consultation and say that they’ve been paying child support all along but now their child is getting ready to go to college and the custodial parent just gave them the bill saying the parents’ portion of college is $10,000 or $20,000. They will often tell me they haven’t saved any money at all for college because child support payments have taken up all or most of their disposable income. Some people didn’t even think of it at all. Invariably I have to advise them that unreimbursed educational expenses, including the cost of college through age 21, are usually ordered by the court. It would be a very big exception to the law to say that the parent should not pay a pro-rata percentage.
Sometimes the court sets what’s called a “SUNY cap.” This means that if the child opts to attend a private school then the parent’s obligation to pay for the schooling would essentially be capped at what the most expensive SUNY School would cost. In this situation, the child would need to pay any difference by taking out student loans. That’s usually a fair result when one is not dealing with a high-income situation. On the other hand, if one or both parents are high income earners (usually $200,000 or more in the Greater New York City area) then the court may not set a SUNY cap and may make them pay a pro-rata percentage – especially if the parents also attended private college or private university.
If the parent or parents say “we just don’t have the money,” then they may need to take out a parent’s loan to fund whatever their obligation is towards college. Those are a couple of the principal differences in New York law vis a vis other states.
What Happens To The Amount Of Child Support Once My Ex Has Remarried?
The fact that they got remarried, in and of itself, would not play any basis at all in child support. Theoretically, if they got remarried and they had another child, then that is a specific deviation factor that the court can consider. However, that does not necessarily mean that they would order any change in the amount of child support paid.
If the non-custodial parent has another child, the philosophy of many Judges is that so-called “after born children” get whatever is left of that non-custodial parent’s income after the first child takes his or her cut. In other words, the philosophy is that if you have a second or third child when you know you already had a child support obligation for the first child, then you do so with the knowledge that that money is already coming out of your paycheck. You have done so knowing that any subsequent child that you have will get a lesser and lesser percentage of your income.
If the law didn’t work like that, then theoretically if a person had 10 children with 10 separate mothers and each of them were entitled to 17% then the father would be paying 170% of his income. Obviously the law cannot be structured like that because doing so would be an impossibility. The only way the law can be structured is that the first child gets 17% of the father’s income and then each subsequently-born child would get 17% of whatever is left.
In some cases, an argument can be made that support provided by the new spouse to one of the parent’s should be seen as income. Usually that argument only works in cases in which that particular parent is suppressing his/her income.
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