One of the most stressful aspects of getting a divorce is knowing how it can affect children. Not only can it take an emotional toll on the young ones in the family, but it can also affect their financial support. This is where child support comes in. With child support, the custodial and noncustodial parent can still ensure their child or children are properly cared for. 

Divorce Mediation is an affordable and amicable option for discussing and deciding on the various intricacies of separation or divorce. Instead of taking your case to the courts and experiencing a lengthy and stressful process, you can choose to work with a mediator. A mediator can help you and your partner negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement regarding child support. Together, you and your spouse can draft a separation or settlement agreement, instead of allowing the courts to decide for you.

What Is Child Support?

Child support is an ongoing, t payment made by a parent or parents for the financial benefit of a child. The overall goal of child support is to divide the costs associated with raising the child, or children, between the parents or legal guardians. This helps both parents still financially contribute to the child’s wellbeing even after they split up or are separated or divorced. 

Child support is usually paid in the form of regular payments by one parent to the other, but parents can agree on a different arrangement. Child support can help a parent pay for food, clothing, and housing. However, child support does not cover large costs such as medical bills, school tuition, daycare fees, certain extracurricular activities or the like. These costs are often split evenly between parents, or each parent contributes an amount proportional to their respective income. This is also known as the pro-rata share.

How Long Do You Pay Child Support in the State of New York?

In the state of New York, a child is entitled to receive child support from one of his or her parents typically until the age of 21. Parents may agree to continue child support to the age of 22 if a child is still enrolled in college. However, this is only if the child is not married, self-supporting, or in the military, under which circumstances the child might be considered emancipated earlier than at age 21.

Calculating Child Support in New York

There is a specific formula the state of New York follows when calculating child support, and the formula is dependent upon certain factors such as:

  • The number of eligible children
  • Combined parental income
  • Parent’s percentage of combined parental income
  • Special circumstances

Number of Eligible Children

Children must be under the age of 21, unmarried, and non-emancipated to qualify. The number of qualifying children determines how much of the parents’ combined income is considered a “basic support obligation.”

  • 1 child: 17% 
  • 2 children: 25% 
  • 3 children: 29% 
  • 4 children: 31% 
  • 5 or more children: at least 35% 

Combined Parental Income 

Income includes salary or wages, unemployment benefits, Social Security, worker’s compensation, and other types of earnings. The court normally deducts FICA tax payments, the child’s health insurance payments, and child support paid for other children. To reach the combined parental income, the courts add both parents’ resulting numbers. 

Parent’s Percentage of Combined Parental Income

The noncustodial parent’s support obligation is proportionate to their percentage of the combined parental income. For example, if the father’s income makes up 30% of the combined income, he is expected to pay 30% of the basic support set by the state.

Special Circumstances

Special circumstances may include instances when the noncustodial parent would sit below the poverty line or unable to care for other children based on the calculated amount. If this occurs, the judge will make adjustments. Children with special needs may also influence how child support is calculated. Courts will consider and so can the parents going over the basic child support obligation in certain circumstances such as based on the standard of living of the parties and the needs of the children. 

What If My Finances Change, and I Can’t Afford to Make My Payments?

Sometimes, parents cannot afford to pay child support. According to the State, if your pay is reduced or other factors have made it difficult to pay your child support, you can file a petition for modification with the court. If you lose your job or get a new job, they recommend that you contact your local child support office immediately.

However, with divorce mediation, you and your spouse can create your own terms for child support. You can even agree to no child support being paid. If you and your spouse have a similar income and share expenses for extracurricular activities, split the time with your child, then you can settle on zero dollars. This outcome would likely not be possible in court, so it may benefit you, even more, to settle your child support responsibilities using mediation. 

What Do I Do Next?

If you do not want the stress, cost, and time commitment of battling over child support in court, you may want to consider opting for mediation. Mediation allows you and your partner to discuss each legal aspect of your divorce in your own time, on your own terms and in a confidential private manner.

A mediator is a trained, neutral third-party that guides you and your partner throughout the process, but does not make any decisions for you. The mediator can provide the calculations for you and your partner and then discuss all options with you for any possible deviation from those calculations. All decisions that are made are made by you and your spouse or partner with the guidance and expertise of a trained mediator. Mediation allows you and your spouse or partner the privacy to discuss and determine child support and other important family legal issues. Mediation is ideal for separating or divorcing couples who want to find an effective and thoughtful settlement for child support in a shorter amount of time. 

Are You Ready to Get Started? Call Us Today!

New York Divorce Mediation Group, LLC, offers affordable, high-quality divorce mediation services for couples in Long Island and the greater New York metro area. Mediation is a smarter alternative to costly, lengthy, and stressful court proceedings. We can help your family reach a mutually beneficial agreement regarding child support and other finances.  If you are interested in divorce mediation or have questions about mediation and child support, please contact us today.

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