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How do courts calculate child support in New York?

In New York, the amount of support a parent must pay is calculated using guidelines established by the state. Courts follow this standard guideline as a way of ensuring that the support amount paid by one parent or both parents is just and fair to both the child and the parents. The court's primary consideration, however, is that the child support is in the best interests of the child.

How and why is child support paid? Support is paid monthly to the custodial parent to help meet the financial needs associated with raising a child. It ensures that the child is well supported with respect to food, clothing, housing, education, healthcare, extracurricular activities and transportation.

Are support orders ever unfair? Not if the guidelines are followed. Despite what many supporting parents believe, a court will never purposefully order a parent to pay an amount of child support that is truly unfair. Any support order is made with the best interests of all parties in mind. Support may include a child's daycare costs and medical expenses not covered by medical insurance. It can also include expenses that were incurred at the time the child was born and immediately afterward, if the supporting parent did not pay it at the time. The court will also consider the number of children to be supported along with the parent's gross income.

How is support calculated? The standard method court use is to multiply a parent's gross income by a percentage provided in the state guidelines, which depends on the number of children involved. For instance, for a single child, the rate is 17 percent. For more children, the rates are 25 percent for two children, 29 percent for three children, 31 for four children and a minimum 35 for five or more children.

Source: ChildSupport.NY.gov, "Noncustodial Parent Information," Accessed on Nov. 13, 2014

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