New York expects both parents to provide for their children’s needs. When the parents are not in a relationship, one parent typically pays child support to the other. The noncustodial parent pays a percentage of their income to the custodial parent.
Child support pays for the basic needs and other mandatory expenses, but unexpected or extraordinary expenses are not included. This article dives into what child support covers and how parents can divide other expenses.
Covered Expenses in New York Child Support
Determining how much child support should be paid each month begins with a formula. The parents’ combined income (minus allowed deductions) is multiplied by a percentage based on the number of minor children requiring support. That multiplier is 17% for one child and up to 35% for five children.
The result of the calculation is what is called the total basic child support obligation. If the noncustodial parent makes 60% of the combined income, for example, they will pay 60% of the total obligation to the other parent.
Basic child support covers the child’s essential needs:
After the basic obligation has been established, mandatory expenses such as health insurance, unreimbursed medical expenses, and child care are added to the basic support obligation. The court has the flexibility to also include educational or therapy costs. Like the basic obligation, the add-on expenses are paid on a pro-rata basis.
Agreements negotiated outside of court have considerable flexibility to include a wide range of other expenses. Private tutoring, sports coaching, voice lessons, study abroad, and other activities are more easily included in a negotiated settlement versus a court decision.
Expenses Outside the Scope of Child Support
Even personalized settlements with generous expenditures cannot predict all future expenses. An experienced family law attorney can include provisions in a divorce settlement that outline how uncovered costs are handled.
The first decision point is establishing a baseline for when both parents must approve an expense. For example, some co-parents stipulate in their agreement that expenses over $500 must be discussed with the other parent.
The second step is to decide how the expenses will be paid. Many co-parents keep a pro-rata method with each parent paying in proportion to their income. Others decide an even 50-50 split is best.
The third issue that should be resolved is what co-parents should do when they disagree about an expenditure. One parent might support their child’s opportunity to study for a year in France. The other parent could be fully against it.
The ways that co-parents can settle disagreements include the following:
- All disagreements are taken to a mediator.
- Each parent has final decision-making power for specific areas (education, health care, extracurricular activities, religious activities, etc.)
- Put a max expenditure on anything not approved by both parents.
- When one parent disagrees, reduce their financial responsibility for the particular cost.
Many conflicts can be resolved through respectful conversation. But do not assume that will always be the case, no matter how amicable everyone is. Putting a dispute resolution method in your agreement – before the issues arise – removes some of the emotional conflict often associated with a dispute. Both parents will know their options if a compromise cannot be found.
Consider Creative Co-Parent Resolutions
At Samuelson Hause PLLC, we help parents eliminate the static and noise and focus on the essence of the disagreement. Our team guides parents to create child support agreements unique to their current needs and flexible for what the future brings.
If you are creating your first agreement, seeking a child support modification, or requesting mediation to resolve post-divorce differences, we can help.
The first step is to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. Reach us online or call (516) 584-4685.