Child Support. What Does it Pay For?

What Is Child Support?   How much is child support? What does child support pay for? Can I pay my child directly? child_support_new_york_state

Child support is the financial obligation you have to support your child as he or she matures. If you have custody of your child, the courts assume that you fulfill your financial obligation. If your child does not live with you, however, the courts may require that you pay child support to the custodial parent.

What does Child Support Actually Cover?

You’ve arrived home from work and as you sort through the day’s mail you see there’s a note from your ex   asking for payment for Tommy’s new baseball uniforms and asking you to pick up some new clothes and toiletry items for Susie when she comes to stay with you next weekend.

But wait a minute; you’ve paid your child support this month and on time like you have every other payment.

With all the money you are paying for child support, why are you being asked to provide additional support to cover these other expenses?

It begs the question, what does child support cover?  It is important to note the following:

  1. In New York State child support is paid to the parent who has physical custody of the child/children. It is not paid to the child/children. 

  2. You cannot designate what the child support/current care amount will be used to pay for.

  3. You cannot require that payments be made above child support by the payor/parent without a court order. Child support is to cover the child’s needs along with the custodial parent’s contribution for care. So above, you could say no to the extras for Tommy and Susie.  However, many parents who want to insure their children have these extras pay anyway.  Of course, the choice will be up to you.

How Much Should You be Paying?

Child Support is based upon a formula according to the New York State Child Support Standards Act and the new Maintenance Laws.  It is also interesting to note the following:

  1. NEED:  Child support is not based on the needs of the children but the incomes of the parents.

  2. AGE OF CHILDREN: Child support is paid until age 21 or emancipation in New York State.  New York State is one of the few states with payments required until that date.

  3. PAYMENTS AFTER AGE 18: Payments after age 18 should be reviewed with an attorney.  There are often circumstances which would allow for a modification of child support.  There could be increase for college expenses or reductions if the child is working or not working or going to college.

  4. INCOME OF OTHER HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS: Incomes of new spouses or other household persons is not calculated for child support but can be a factor if seeking a modification.

  5. OTHER REQUIRED PAYMENTS: In addition to current care child support based on the Child Support Standards Act formula can be required for health insurance premiums and uncovered medical expenses and employment related child care.  These amounts are determined by the proportion of income of the parties.  Whoever makes more pays a greater amount, unless another arrangement is reached.

  6. DEVIATIONS TO THE FORMULA: Deviation is possible but often difficult.  If you are the parent who needs child support don’t agree to a deviation it can follow you for ever and make supporting your child difficult.  If you are the parent looking for deviation you will need to meet certain criteria that may require the assistance of legal counsel to get the Court’s approval.

True of False?  Joint Custody Means You Don’t Have to Pay Child Support. 

FALSE!!! First, joint legal custody has no real bearing on child support.

Second, joint physical custody where the parents each have the child or children the same amount of time (days and overnights) each week or month may have a child support deviation circumstance. This is where child support does not have to be according to the formula.  Please note that even in a joint physical situation NYS authority is that the higher income parent still pays child support to the lower income parent.  I recommend an experienced attorney to assist in this very complicated and subjective senerio. 

See also:

Purpose of an Initial Consultation

What Will My Divorce Cost Me?