Court Discusses Grounds for Deviating from New York Child Support Guidelines

New York law dictates that all parents must provide for their children financially. As such, when the parents of a child divorce, the court will often order one parent to pay the other child support. The courts rely on child support guidelines to determine what constitutes an appropriate support obligation. The courts are not strictly bound by the guidelines, however, but can exercise discretion and deviate from the parameters set forth by the guidelines when deemed appropriate, as demonstrated in a recent New York ruling. If you want more insight into your rights and obligations with regard to child support, it is smart to talk to a New York child support attorney as soon as possible.

Factual History and Procedural Setting of the Case

It is reported that the mother and the father were married in January 2014, and the mother adopted the father’s child from a prior relationship in December 2015. In April 2018, the mother initiated divorce proceedings, seeking ancillary relief. By March 2019, the parties reached a settlement agreement concerning child custody and parental access.

Allegedly, in October 2019, following a nonjury trial, the court rendered a decision determining that the mother should pay the father $150 per month in child support, a downward deviation from the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) guidelines. The court justified this deviation by considering factors such as shared physical custody, similar incomes, medical insurance coverage, the child’s eligibility for government benefits, the short duration of the marriage, and the mother’s adoption of the father’s biological child. The father appealed.

Grounds for Deviating from Child Support Guidelines

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In its analysis, the court acknowledged that the CSSA provides a formula for calculating child support based on combined parental income up to a statutory cap. However, when the combined income exceeds this cap, the court has the discretion to apply statutory percentages, consider additional factors outlined in the Domestic Relations Law, or use both methods.

In the subject case, the court determined that the trial court appropriately exercised its discretion by not considering combined income over the statutory cap and by deviating downward from the CSSA’s presumptive amount. While the mother’s income was higher, the court found that the disparity between the parties’ incomes did not justify applying the statutory percentages to the combined income exceeding the cap.

Therefore, the court deemed the trial court’s decision to set child support at $150 per month based on income up to the statutory cap appropriate. Consequently, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling, concluding that the calculation of child support was properly conducted within the framework of the CSSA and relevant legal principles.

Consult a Dedicated New York Attorney

New York courts establish child support obligations after assessing numerous factors, including the parties’ income, custody arrangements, and child support guidelines. If you share custody of a child and have questions about child support, it would benefit you to consult an attorney. Ksenia Rudyuk is a dedicated New York child support attorney who can inform you of your rights and aid you in seeking a just outcome. You can contact Ms. Rudyuk by calling 212-706-2001 or using our online form to arrange a meeting.

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