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child support and alimony calculation in New York

For purposes of child support, either parent can be named the custodial parent by a Court.  For the purposes of this article we will assume that the mother is the custodial parent and will be receiving the child support and alimony payments.  However, fathers who have custody can also use this as a guide.

How do I apply for child support?


Usually, you ask for child support in Family Court in the county where you and the child live.   You can also go for child support in the county where the father lives.  You are not required to have a lawyer to apply for child support but it is recommended that you consult with a divorce attorney prior to filing for support.

How is the dollar amount of child support calculated?


The Child Support Standard Act (CSSA) is the law in NYS and tells the amount of child support the father must pay.  The CSSA applies to parental income up to a maximum of $141,000 (2015 limit) and the Court can apply it to income in excess of $141,000 based on certain factors. Examples of these factors are: the financial ability of the father, the lifestyle the child would have enjoyed if the parents stayed living together, and any special needs the child may have. The maximum can be adjusted periodically by the New York State legislature. The amount you get depends on what the father’s income is, what your income is, how many children you have together, and what your children’s basic needs are.

The Support Magistrate will look at the information in your financial disclosure affidavit and the father’s financial disclosure affidavit, if he supplies one. The Support Magistrate might also ask you and the father to answer questions. And you and he might be asked to give the Support Magistrate other evidence of your income and expenses, such as a paystub or a W-2 statement.

Both parents’ incomes are used to figure out how much child support the father has to pay because both parents have to support their children.

This is how it is calculated:

Deduct (subtract) these things from each parent’s income:

  • spousal maintenance paid to a former husband or wife by court order
  • child support paid to other children by court order
  • public assistance and supplemental security income (SSI)
  • city taxes
  • social security and Medicare taxes (FICA)

Combine (add) the incomes of both parents after making those deductions, and multiply the total you get by the correct percentage:

  • 17% for one child
  • 25% for two children
  • 29% for three children
  • 31% for four children
  • Not less than 35% for five children or more

Divide the figure you get between both parents according to both your incomes (on a “pro rata” basis). This means that if the father earns twice as much as you, he must pay twice as much child support.

The father may also have to pay additional amounts for:

  • child care, if you are working or going to school.
  • medical care not covered by insurance
  • the child’s educational expenses


The parent who has health insurance must also (if reasonable) continue providing health insurance for your children. The cost of providing health insurance will be shared between yourself and the father, in proportion to your respective incomes. If neither of you has health insurance, the court will order the custodial parent (the parent with the greatest amount of custody) to apply for the state’s child health insurance plan.

When do child support payments stop?


Child support payments typically end when the child reaches age 21 or becomes emancipated.  Emancipation means a child is living separately and independently from a parent, or is self –supporting.   Some things that show that a child is emancipated are:

  • Child has completed 4 years of college education
  • Child has gotten married
  • Child is living away from home (except for living at school or college)
  • Child has gone into the military
  • Child is 17 years old and working full-time (except for summer vacation jobs)
  • Child willingly and fro no good reason has ended the relationship with both parents


alimony calc


In New York, alimony is referred to in three different ways: as alimony, spousal support, and maintenance.  “Temporary maintenance” is an order that one spouse must financially support the other while the divorce is being finalized.  Once the divorce is finalized, the temporary maintenance stops and the judge decides whether permanent alimony is appropriate.

How is the amount of alimony payments determined?


Unlike child support payments there really are no set guidelines for the amount and duration of alimony payments.   To decide whether spousal support is appropriate, the judge will look at the needs of the spouse asking for support and whether the other spouse has the financial ability to provide financial help. For example, if your income is lower than your spouse’s but you are able to support yourself, you may not be entitled to alimony. The court will also look at other factors when making a decision about support:

  • the length of the marriage
  • each spouse’s age and health status
  • each spouse’s present and future earning capacity
  • the need of one spouse to incur education or training expenses
  • whether the spouse seeking maintenance is able to become self-supporting
  • whether caring for children inhibited one spouse’s earning capacity
  • equitable distribution of marital property, and
  • the contributions that one spouse has made as a homemaker in order to help enhance the other spouse’s earning capacity.

The court will also look to see whether the acts of one spouse have inhibited or continue to inhibit the other spouse’s earning capacity or ability to obtain employment. The most common example of this would be domestic violence. If one spouse’s abuse of the other affected that abused spouse’s ability to maintain or to get a job, the court might consider those actions in making its order.


Disclosure:  The information listed above is for educational purposes only.  Greenbush Financial Group, LLC does not provide legal advice.  For legal advice, please consult your attorney.


Michael Ruger

About Michael………

Hi, I’m Michael Ruger. I’m the managing partner of Greenbush Financial Group and the creator of the nationally recognized Money Smart Board blog . I created the blog because there are a lot of events in life that require important financial decisions. The goal is to help our readers avoid big financial missteps, discover financial solutions that they were not aware of, and to optimize their financial future.

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