New York Court Discusses Child Support in Shared Custody Cases

New York law states that parents have an obligation to provide for their children financially. In cases in which parents share custody of a child, this often means that one parent will be required to pay child support to the other. In matters in which parents have equal custody rights, the courts will often impose the child support obligation on the parent who earns a higher income, as demonstrated in a recent New York case. If you are dealing with a child support dispute, it is prudent to talk to a New York child support attorney about your options.

Case Setting

It is reported that the father and mother were married and had two children, who were born in 2006 and 2010; they divorced in 2017. The divorce judgment initially ordered the father to pay $641.86 per week in child support. Following a hearing, a Support Magistrate modified the child support obligations, ordering the mother to pay the father $150 weekly, deeming him the custodial parent.

Allegedly, the mother objected, arguing that, despite equal custody, the father, as the monied spouse, should be the noncustodial parent. The father also objected, contending that the Support Magistrate erred by not imputing income to the mother. The court denied both objections, and both parties appealed.

Grounds for Imposing Child Support Obligations in Shared Custody Matters

On appeal, the court granted the mother’s objections and remitted the case to the trial court for recalculating the father’s child support obligation and determining any arrears, but rejected the father’s objections.

First, the court addressed the mother’s argument that the trial erred in denying her objections, asserting that the father should be the noncustodial parent due to equal custody and his higher income. The court applied the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA), emphasizing that when custody is shared equally, the noncustodial parent is the one with the greater income.

The court ultimately found that the Support Magistrate improperly determined that the father was the custodial parent, relying on a stipulation and interim order. The court explained that the evidence demonstrated an approximate 50/50 parenting time. As such, it deemed the father the noncustodial parent. Further, as the adjusted gross income of the mother was less than the father’s, the court deemed the father responsible for paying child support to the mother.

Further, the court found that the trial court did not err by not imputing income to the mother. The court explained that imputation is permissible based on earning capacity but only if supported by evidence. Here, the court deferred to the Support Magistrate’s determinations that the mother was credible and was not underemployed, finding that there was no abuse of discretion in not imputing income to the mother.

Meet with an Experienced New York Lawyer

While many parents are willing to provide financial support for their children, they disagree as to what constitutes an appropriate child support obligation. If you have questions about your rights with regard to child support, it is advisable to meet with a lawyer. Ksenia Rudyuk is an experienced New York child support lawyer with the skills and resources needed to help you protect your interests. You can contact Ms. Rudyuk by using the online form or by calling 212-706-2001 to arrange a conference.

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