Legislation in 2015 changed how child and spousal support amounts are determined in New York. Since that time, a mathematical formula serves as a foundation for how support is calculated. The formula includes income caps that are adjusted every two years in relation to the Consumer Price Index.
Effective March 1, 2022, the income cap for child support calculations increased from $154,000 to $163,000. The income cap for spousal support went up to $203,000 from $192,000. The law gives judges the flexibility to make adjustments for higher earners as well as low-income noncustodial spouses (less than $18,346.50).
Calculating Child Support
Child support is calculated using the formula in the Child Support Standards Act. The formula multiplies the parties’ combined parental income (up to $163,000) by a certain percentage depending on the number of children.
The combined parental income is multiplied by a percentage, based on the number of children:
- 17% for one child
- 25% for two children
- 29% for three children
- 31% for four children
- 35% (minimum) for five or more children
If the combined parental income is above the cap, the court can choose to also apply the appropriate percentage to the overage, not award additional child support, or create their own formula.
The magistrate or judge can consider other relevant factors, including the following:
- The financial resources of each parent
- The child’s physical, mental, and emotional health
- The standard of living the child is accustomed to
- The tax consequences for each parent
The court can also award child support based on a demonstration of need. New York law requires parents to financially support their children until 21 years old.
Determining Spousal Support/Maintenance
Prior to the changes brought by the 2015 law, courts determined pre- and post-judgment maintenance on a discretionary basis. Today, the court uses a formula as part of the calculation in deciding how much, if any, spousal support or maintenance is to be granted. The income cap (currently at $203,000) applies only to the payor spouse (the one with higher income), not the parties’ combined income. Like child support, how the court handles income above the cap is up to the judge’s discretion.
Other factors considered in spousal maintenance include the following:
- The age and health of each spouse
- The current and future earning capacity of each spouse
- The standard of living established in the marriage
- Any wasteful dissipation of marital property
- How one spouse contributed to the career or career potential of the other
If post-divorce spousal maintenance is awarded, how many years contributions continue is based on the length of the marriage:
- 0-15 years: 15%-30%
- 15+-20 years: 30%-40%
- More than 20 years: 35%-50%
Non-durational maintenance is rarely awarded. Courts have the authority to deviate from guideline amounts if the result is unjust or inappropriate in individual cases.
Understand Your Rights to Child Support and Spousal Maintenance
The formulas created through the bills passed in 2015 helped New Yorkers better understand their rights and obligations. Instead of a blank slate, the courts had a framework from which to make their decisions.
While helpful, judges still can exercise discretion in both child support and spousal support/maintenance. An experienced attorney from Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C. can craft strong justifications for a judge or magistrate to go outside the basic guidelines.
Learn more about your child and spousal support rights in a confidential consultation. Schedule by calling (516) 406-8381 or contacting us online.