Under New York law, child support consists of two elements: “basic” child support and the “add-ons.” Pursuant to Domestic Relations Law §240, New York requires that basic child support be calculated in two parts: (a) the support based on the total combined income of both parents up to $80,000; and (b) the support based on the total combined income of both parents over $80,000. For both parents’ combined adjusted gross income over $80,000, the court has the discretion to apply the same statutory guidelines, and for all practical purposes will do so. See Cassano v. Cassano, 85 N.Y.2d 649 (1995). The result will be the total combined basic child support attributable to both parents for the combined income in excess of $80,000. From the combined basic child support as calculated under the statute, a pro-rata share of each parent’s income is calculated. Each parent’s pro-rata share is a ratio equal to that parent’s adjusted gross income divided by the combined adjusted gross income for both parents. That pro-rata share is used to calculate each parent’s share of child support add-ons.
The parent paying child support is also obligated to pay for his/her pro-rata share of the following add-ons.
Domestic Relations Law §240 (1-b)(c)(4) and Domestic Relations Law §240 (1-b)(c)(6) provide that when a custodial parent is working, seeking work, or is in school or training which will lead to employment, reasonable day care expenses will be allocated in a ratio equal to the each parent’s income to the combined income. Reasonable day care expenses vary and each situation should be discussed with an experienced family law lawyer to determine each party’s rights and responsibilities.
Health Care Expenses
Domestic Relations Law §240 (1)(d) provides that the cost of health care insurance shall be allocated in the same proportion as each parent’s income is to the combined parental income. Domestic Relations Law §240 (1-b)(c)(5) provides that reasonable health care expenses not covered by insurance are allocated in the same proportion as each parent’s income is to the combined parental income. Obviously, the parties can opt-out of the CSSA’s provisions with respect to the add-ons. Any provisions with respect to the cost of health insurance are enforceable just like child support provisions.
In Rochester and Monroe County, as well as in surrounding counties, the Supreme Court and Family Court usually require the non-custodial parent to carry health care insurance for the children. However, similarly to child care, there may be situations where it is more beneficial financially for the custodial parent to pay for the cost of health insurance for the children and for the non-custodial parent to contribute his or her share. The parties should be mindful of the cost of health care coverage and should discuss these issues with a family law attorney before entering into a separation agreement or agreeing to a judgment of divorce.
Educational and Extracurricular Expenses
In addition, the parents may be obligated to pay for the cost of extracurricular expenses and educational expenses, such as a private school or college. I have previously discussed issues related to the college costs, and will address issues related to paying for a private school at a later date.